Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Bear of Very Little Brain

In addition to the Richard Scarry and Sandra Boyton stories I've been reading to the baby through a paper-towel tube, a little while ago I added some A.A. Milne to the mix. I have often mentioned Tian Tian and Winnie the Pooh in the same breath. Both are very food-motivated, but the way both bears acts could be considered a sign of "very little brain."

The same cannot be said for Juan, a spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) at Zoo Berlin. On Sunday, Juan decided the standard enrichment items the zookeepers offered weren't interesting enough, so he decided to go walkabout.

Using a log to cross a moat, he scaled the enclosure wall, and wandered through the zoo grounds for about half an hour before being darted and returned to his enclosure. [ BBC | | Fototour ( | Berliner Morgenpost ]

According to Der Tagesspeiegel, Juan is 6 years old and probably starting to look for new territory to call his own. (Currently, he shares his enclosure with his parents, Navarro and Isabel.) To accommodate those needs, it looks like Zoo Berlin is looking to ship him off to another zoo.

According to the BBC, although some parents were worried when Juan headed to the children's playground, Zoo Berlin Deputy Director Heiner Klös was not concerned: "Spectacled bears eat both vegetables and meat but children tend not to be on their menu," he said. "I'd have been a lot more worried if one of our polar bears had escaped."

Interestingly, spectacled bears are the closest Ursidae relative to giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Tian Tian did escape once, but it was only from the main yard into a keeper area where food is stored. He immediately set himself down to have a snack and never made it to any unconfined area.

Unrelated Note

I will not gloat. I will remain calm. 3.5 games back. And I can think of 22 reasons to absolutely love the Cleveland Indians (and here's a 23rd reason: we don't play them again this year). "Everybody's having fun ..."

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