Hercules the bear to be honoured with headstone

THE owners of Hercules the bear have revealed the touching headstone that will be laid at his final resting place next week.

Hercules the bear pictured at the Sheriffmuir Inn in 1980. Picture: TSPL

The 9ft grizzly became a global superstar after he went on the run while filming a television advert in the Outer Hebrides in 1980.

When he died in 2000 at the age of 25 he was buried in a garden in Clackmannanshire next to the home he shared with owners wrestler Andy Robin and his wife Maggie.

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But when the house was put up for sale the decision was taken to rebury him in North Uist next to a wooden statue already erected in his honour.

A specially made headstone reads Hercules the bear lies sleeping here, watching over his beloved islands resting in peace.

The words were carved into a 450lb slab of granite - about the same weight as Hercules - next to a carved image of the bear himself.

Hercules remains have already been taken to the island. A low key burial saw him lowered into the ground inside a giant coffin with the help of a JCB.

But next Thursday there will be an official funeral service, where the public will get to say goodbye to him for the last time.

Maggie will give a speech in what she said will be an emotional moment for her and her husband.

“It’s the rounding of the circle for me,” she said. “Hercules is back home. His journey will be completed.”

She continued: “Hercules has been returned to the island of North Uist beside the commemorative statue that was put up for him several years ago.”

She added: “The headstone is beautiful.”

Hercules, who grew to 70 stone, featured in several adverts, including a role in a Kleenex Big Softy advert which was filmed in Benbecula in the Western Isles in August 1980.

The bear went on the run for 24 days. He was eventually spotted swimming by local crofters and shot with a tranquilliser dart from a helicopter.

His escape on Uist entrenched him in Scottish folklore, Maggie said.

So many people there have their own story about Hercules, she continued. I was told people were worried that Hercules was hiding behind the peat stacks.

Apparently one person put a wardrobe over their bedroom door.

The bear was originally rescued as a cub in 1976 from a wildlife park which had planned to put him down.

He was bought Andy Robin for 50 and trained him to be part of his wrestling act.

The funeral service, which members of the public are invited to attend, will take place at 11.30am on Thursday July 23rd beside the statue of Hercules in Langass Woodland, North Uist.