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My Life Is A Zoo

This is where I will post interesting (or not so interesting) things that happen in my life. The subject matter will include any random things that I decide to put in (including animals, my work, my hobbies and my family).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bear Awareness Day 2008

The Houston Zoo celebrated Bear Awareness Day this last Saturday (May 17th). It was a lot of fun and well attended. We had representatives from the Houston SPCA, Texas Parks and Wildlife and Big Thicket National Preserve on hand to answer questions. They also had educational handouts available for anyone who wanted one. TPWD brought their interactive cd to allow zoo guests to test their bear knowledge. A TPWD representative, Ricky Maxey, also gave two presentations on bears in Texas for zoo staff and volunteers. The zoo commissary hosted a booth that gave guests a chance to see what exactly the bears at the zoo eat, including some of their diet as well as the diet sheet showing how much of each item our 4 bears (2 species) receive on a daily/weekly basis. We also put together the "Bear Maze" which allowed guests to pretend to be a bear. :)

My department again did two educational skits for the guests. The first one was our hiking skit. This skit took place in our Grizzly Bear exhibit and discussed what to do if you run into a bear while hiking. One staff member played the bear while two others played the hikers. After it was over (and the staff had left the exhibit) the Grizzly Bears were let out onto exhibit to the oohs and aahs of the guests. Our second skit was our camping skit and took place in our Spectacled Bear exhibit. This one illustrated how to camp correctly in bear country. One staff member played the "good camper" and two others played the "bad campers". Once the skit is done (and the campers have left the exhibit) the Spectacled bears are let out onto exhibit and allowed to wreak havoc on the camp, which they did. I have posted some low-res pictures on the groups website under the photo section if anyone is interested in seeing them. During both skits a keeper discusses how Texas is again becoming home to black bears. We chose to focus on this because most Texans have not had to worry about black bears. Now, however, there is a sustainable population in West Texas and several individual bears have been sighted in East Texas. We feel it is important to educate the people of Texas on how they and the bears and cohabit together. TPWD has done an excellent job on being proactive with this. They have been educating the people in the state since 2002 about bears returning to Texas in attempt to reduce the number of bear/people conflicts. The staff at the Houston Zoo are pleased to assist them in their mission. :)

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