The stories that were told about the life that his master gave him, sparked activism in favor of animals.
Don Mateo and his bear Rulas were, since the late 1940s, a unique couple. Not only were they as well known as the tent artists, but they also toured most of the capital’s cabarets and fairs promoting their number to audiences of all ages.
However, that pair would be remembered for another reason as well. Its well-earned fame would provoke attacks by reactionary groups and would set the first precedents in Mexico City on the protection of animals.
Since 1947, some gazettes and newspapers dedicated spaces to talk about the subject, and both Don Mateo and Rulas came to light in some notes written by outraged journalists and columnists.
In some texts they called the poor guy the “exploiter of the animal kingdom” and in others they affirmed that the bear trainer starved his furry show partner and that in order not to listen to his moans he made him drunk every night with brandy.
Of course those gruesome stories had more of a Chinese story than real. Don Mateo actually loved his bear like a son, and it is said that the day the good Rulas hung up his claws, his master, consumed by sadness, went to keep him company just a year later.
However, the most important thing was that that bear became the patron saint of the city’s animals and the controversy it aroused started the activism of many sectors.
Among the associations that emerged were some eager to gain power and political sympathy. That pretext of the protection of various species suited them perfectly and some deputy would label them opportunists, stating that the issue was also a vein full of gold for their coffers, because almost at the same time they began to collect donations for their cause.
Sooner rather than later, one of the first groups of activists emerged to watch over the lives of all species other than human beings. That first group, which emerged at the end of 1949, had among its members many women of high rank, who, from a young age, developed affection for animals, such as their pachones cats, pedigree dogs and, later, their husbands. Bartolos.
With the support of the portfolio of the latter, those ladies financed a lot of propaganda to sensitize people about respect for animals. Due to the good results they obtained in terms of publicity, other more radical organizations arose to begin to persecute all those monkeys who treated animals like their mother-in-law and exploited them like slaves.
The Association for Respect for Species, whose offices were located on Calle de Brasil, in the Center, sent an angry letter to the deputies and senators in which they demanded the creation of a law for the protection of animals.
Some columnists took the initiative by choteo and affirmed that some deputies were grateful because finally some citizens proposed to watch over them and their skins; as you say, a large number of species entered the animal kingdom, including those politicians sometimes disguised as humans.
However, in 1950 the pressure had the desired effect and the authorities began a campaign to free the disgraced animals. The pages of the main newspapers began to fill with reports describing the exploits of these animal protection brigades.
Coyotes that lived in garages, ostriches that had been placed in restaurant corrals, and even the famous one-eyed lion that was exhibited outside a tent in the Obrera neighborhood, were some of the cases that were disseminated.
Among the villains who fell with the initiative, the case of a businessman in the shoe industry who ordered experiments to use the skin of stray dogs was very well known; This is without counting the case of the taquero de la Hidalgo who was found in his house by a large pack of fattening dogs.
However, once the novelty had passed, the actions in this regard became very sporadic. However, at the end of the 1950s there was already talk of the urgency of making stricter laws to combat the trafficking of wildlife that was later sold abroad. Still in those times it was possible to rent a plane and fill it with cages with endangered species, without more expense than a bite for the customs officer. A loophole that later laws would try to amend, although without much success.
Even today the trafficking of animals is carried out in a blatant way. To tell you that in the eighties, on the corner of Vértiz and Eugenia, in the Narvarte neighborhood, there was a used car lot where they exhibited lions and tigers, and even offered any carcacha in exchange for a rare species of mammals or reptiles. Name! Yes to shamelessness, in my land.