I took advantage of the free admission and went to Zoo Year's Eve to visit with some of my former companions. Had some quality raven and otter time, but the highlight was a better look at a snow leopard than I'd gotten in the whole year I'd been a docent. What a stunningly beautiful animal...just the tail is enough to make you go "Ooooooh."
There are different definitions of intelligence, but spending time at the zoo always makes clear to me which species is the most ignorant. And that's probably a good thing...being there alone with the animals, I could make rationalizations to myself so that I could enjoy the pleasure of being with the animals despite my sadness at their fate; seeing the behavior of other people and listening to their comments serves to remind me what a dismal failure zoos are in their educational mission.
Another reason I went to the zoo was to see how high the tiger enclosure was. From the moment I heard about the San Francisco zoo tiger attack and that it wasn't the result of an open door and that teenage males were involved, I had little doubt that they had brought the attack on themselves. That of course is a generalization based on my experiences both with people at zoos and with teenagers, but a tiger that has been living in a confined area for a long period does not randomly decide to jump out and attack someone one day without provocation. My biggest regret as always in these human/predator confrontations is that the predator wound up being killed for doing what comes naturally.
Up in Ely, Minnesota, a bear called Solo (because one ear was torn off when she was a cub) has been hibernating with her two cubs under an uninhabited cabin. This article gives a good summary of the original situation ... go read it now.
So yes, the state DNR planned to kill a hibernating bear, not because she'd been clawing people up in their sleep or growling at them or anything at all aggressive; she just wasn't running away from them. A lot of the people who signed a petition to do something about the bear apparently thought the DNR would just move her somewhere ... you know, to that magical place where there aren't any people and all the animals live in peace. When they found out killing was involved, they wanted their signatures back.
This sanctuary, which I've visited, said bring the bear here. Someone else suggested the bear go to North Dakota (at this news, Solo was rumored to have muttered in her sleep, "Kill me now.") I quite enjoyed this letter from a woman describing her experience with Solo and her opinion of the cabin owner and the DNR.
The good news is that Solo is not going to be killed by the DNR. She and her cubs are going to be moved together but it doesn't sound like the DNR is moving them to a good wild place. Instead, their press release says they will be moved to "a captive facility where they can be cared for and not have uncontrolled interactions with people" but exactly where hasn't been determined. I find that wording troubling; it sounds more like a zoo or a canned hunt property than a sanctuary.
1/14 UPDATE: Solo and her cubs have been moved to this Oswald's Bear Ranch. I've heard nothing about the place, but the bears will now spend their lives caged. Another big screw-up by the DNR. When the DNR arrived to move the bears from under the cabin, they found that some scumball human who I would dearly love to have a few minutes alone with had pepper sprayed them.