Falling Bear

Falling Bear

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Falling Bear is a photoshop meme based on an unusual picture of a bear falling in mid-air from a tree after being tranquilized by the police in Boulder, Colorado. Upon its publication through the school newspaper, the perfectly timed photograph of the bear made the rounds on Reddit and Tumblr, where it spawned dozens of image macros and photoshopped images.


According to the university newspaper CU Independent[1], the bear was first spotted and reported to University of Colorado campus police shortly before 8 a.m (local time) on April 26th, 2012. After about two hours of occupying the tree, the bear was subsequently tranquilized and retrieved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department. The photograph of the bear was captured by University of Colorado student Andy Duann who works for the school’s newspaper CU Independent.


That same day, Redditor We_Have_To_Go_Back posted a link to the photograph in a post titled “A badass picture from my college newspaper of a black bear being tranquilized after strolling onto campus.”[2] The post was well received by the community with more than 7,700 upvotes and generated at least 400 comments. A complementary Quickmeme page[11] was launched as a result of the thread.

The photograph quickly went on to infiltrate Tumblr[4] as well, leading to the creation of single topic blogs Falling Bear[8] and Bear Flop.[7] The story of the Boulder bear went viral in the news media as well, receiving coverage from major Internet news sites including The Guardian, Washington Post[9] and International Business Times[10], as well as the Huffington Post, Boing Boing and Mashable among others.

Notable Examples

Following its viral spread, a conflict between University of Colorado’s UC Independent and the photographer Andy Duann arose regarding the copyright credit to the image. According to the journalism news site Poynter[6], Andy Duann was contacted by the Boulder Daily Camera and offered $250 to use the photograph in print. Duann initially accepted the offer with the byline “For the Daily Camera,” but the credit was later changed to the CU Independent after its advisor Gil Asakawa requested via e-mail.

The 22 year old Taiwan native and electronic engineering major student has stated that he is considering legal action against the school paper to claim his copyright for the photograph. “They did not pay me even a penny,” Duann told Poynter. The UC Independent’s advisor Gil Asakawa explained his action in the following statement:

“Since Andy is a staff photographer for the CU Independent, the Camera needed to contact the [CU Independent] for permission. We assumed the Camera went directly to one of our staff photographers specifically to avoid giving the CU Independent -- a competitor -- credit."

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