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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Animal Letters

Air Date: Week of

Audience reaction from recent segments on modern zoos and the return of New England black bears.


CURWOOD: And now it's time to hear from you, our listeners. Brian Kerr Jung, who listens to WUWM in Milwaukee, complimented us on last week's interview with Vicki Croke. She's the author of The Modern Ark: A Book on Zoos. "You did a real service by asking the question, are zoos really necessary?" Writes Mr. Kerr-Jung. "Time would be better spent restoring the natural habitats of native animals. That way, we could all experience nature and more importantly, nature could go on experiencing itself."

On the other hand, William Maxwell, a listener to West Virginia Public Radio, says we should have spent more time talking about zoos that work. "After all," he writes, "some zoos provide good environments for the animals' health as well as for viewing."

And while we're on the subject of viewing animals, our recent report by Sy Montgomery on bear researchers prompted some listeners to recall their encounters. When James Jennings of Brooklyn, Pennsylvania, was in the National Guard, he ran into a bear who frequented the base dump.

JENNINGS: I must have gotten a little too close while trying to take a picture, and he ran right at me. While he was running at me I thought of a lot of things: climb a tree, jump to another one, don't run. And then I remembered reading an article at the dentist's office about -- a woman wrote it about bears. Make yourself big and holler at him. I stood up on my toes, waved my arms above my head, and hollered something at him, and it stopped him dead in his tracks. He stood there looking at me. Kept my arms up, kept looking right at him, maybe 20 feet away, no further. And I growled at him. And he turned around and walked away. (Sighs) It was a scary thing.

CURWOOD: South Carolina resident Michelle Grusing-Chamberlain originally hails from Canada where her Aunt Fay still lives. Recently, Aunt Fay was opening a neighbor's back door when she smacked a bear square in the snout. Ms. Grusing-Chamberlain writes that her aunt broke all Canadian athletic records for the 100-yard dash back to her house. We presume the bear did the same all the way to his den.

Finally, storyteller John McDonald, a listener to Maine Public Broadcasting, called in this tale.

McDONALD: And they tell a story in northern Maine about a fellow from the city who came up to do some hunting in Maine. And the Maine guide took him out to the woods. And because he was so nervous they said, "Look, why don't you take a bucket and go down to the spring and get some water?" So this city fellow went out, and 5 minutes later the poor city fellow's back with the bucket in his hand and he's rattling and the fellow's white as a ghost and he's scared to death. And the Maine guide said, "What's the matter with you?" He said, "I went down to the spring like you asked me, and standing right in the middle of the spring was a 300-pound black bear." And the Maine guide said, "Eh -- don't worry about that." He said, "Why that bear is just as scared of you as you are of him." And the fellow from the city said, "Is that right?" And the Maine guide said, "Yes, it's right." He said, "Well in that case, the water ain't fit to drink now anyway."

CURWOOD: (Clears his throat) Send your comments and questions to Living on Earth, 8 Story Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138. That's Living on Earth, 8 Story Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts,02138. If you're on the Internet, LOE@NPR.ORG is the address. And check out our web page at www.loe.org. For e-mail, LOE@NPR.ORG. For the web page, www.loe.org. Or pick up the phone. You can call our listener line any time at 800-218-9988. That's 800-218-9988. It's NPR's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.



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