My Favorite Critter

Most people love dogs, cats, horses, etc. And they’re okay I suppose.

But my favorite non-human creature that roams this ball of rock and water we all call home is the polar bear.

The running joke in the family is that I am partial to the polar bear for a few very obvious reasons. Big. White. Lumbering. Ill-tempered when approached uninvited.

Okay, so I plead guilty as charged or at least no contest.

Whenever I am near a zoo – or a Sea World – that has a polar bear exhibit I make sure to go check it out.

Sea World San Diego’s exhibit is kind of cool. But the only way you can see the bears – at least that I found – was through a large glass viewing area and most of the view was underwater. If the bears aren’t swimming, you don’t see much.

The Albuquerque Zoo has – or had when I last visited in 1993 – a great area for the bears to swim and play. And you have good views of them above and below the water.

I spent a good 30 minutes of our visit just watching one bear swim backwards, back and forth. It was incredibly relaxing.

Unfortunately, the San Francisco Zoo’s enclosure was borderline criminal. Despite there being an area for water to be poured in for the bears to enjoy, it was bone dry. I can imagine the bears’ frustration being less than a mile from the ocean (the Zoo is just off Ocean Beach). Close enough to smell it but not a drop to swim in. Whoever runs the place had better have a plan to change this, or send the bears to a zoo that knows what they’re doing.

My new hometown of Omaha has what looks like a great zoo, which we plan on checking out soon. They are planning a polar bear enclosure that might rival Albuquerque’s. For me, it will be nice to be able to see another live polar bear again.

A lot of folks think we shouldn’t have zoos.  That it is cruel to the animals. But if the animal was born in captivity, it knows no other way of life. Releasing it into the wild is a death sentence – as has been proven numerous times when it has been done.

And not everyone can go into the natural habitats to see these creatures. A zoo allows for people to see them and gain a better understanding of them. Perhaps if our schools spent more time sending the kids to zoos, museums and other places where they could interact and better learn – and less time on things schools shouldn’t be teaching our kids (putting condoms on zucchinis, how to protest Donald Trump as a first grader concerned with the global geopolitical ramifications of a Democrat not being in the White House after eight years) – our school systems might produce better people after 12 years.

So, instead of buying little Johnny the latest must-have video game, or little Suzie a copy of Rules For Radicals, take ’em to the zoo.

And if your zoo has a polar bear, stop by and say hello. We’re not as grouchy as our reputations make us out to be.

By the way, if you have about $4 left over after the Zoo and you want a little downtime, try out my new book, When The Gods Fell. It’s just $3.99 on Kindle and free on Kindle Unlimited.

You’ll learn why a woman has waited all alone on Mars for 65 million years to tell the first human from Earth the story of the last days of Olympus.


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