Cinnamon debuts at CALM
Two hundred excited and anxious visitors waited patiently outside the bear habitat at the California Living Museum (CALM) on June 12. At approximately, 10:10 a.m., CALM Director Rick Hewett uttered the words they had been waiting to hear.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, would you please help us welcome CALM’s newest member of our wildlife family, Cinnamon, the black bear cub!”
As the waiting crowd applauded wildly, one of two bear den doors opened and a one year-old male, cinnamon-colored, black bear nervously took the first steps into his new outdoor environment. It only took him a few minutes to find treats that the CALM staff had strategically placed throughout the bear habitat. As he looked, Cinnamon ran, jumped, frolicked in the pond, stood on his hind legs to get a first glimpse of the crowd and later went eyeball-to-eyeball with visitors at the habitat viewing window.
“Look at him run all over the place from the bottom of the moat to the top of a tree in just a few seconds. I’m astounded,” said docent Ben Nafus.
For the next few weeks, visitors had better get to CALM early to see his antics. Cinnamon will only be on display in the morning between 9-11 a.m. He will alternate his time in the habitat exercise area with longtime resident female black bear Dart, who will be on exhibit from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. each day. CALM wants to make sure both are ready for the adjustment of occupying the outside exercise facility together, according to Hewett.
Dart formerly occupied the habitat with brother Digger. A few months ago, Digger had to be euthanized following an injury that left him paralyzed.
Cinnamon has known loneliness, too. Cinnamon was either abandoned or orphaned in the San Bernardino mountains. He was spotted wandering around a mountain community and later placed in a temporary shelter at Rancho Cordova operated by the state Department of Fish and Game. Had CALM not taken in the bear cub, he would have been euthanized since fish and game can only house animals for a short time.
Cinnamon got his name as the result of a contest in which more than 500 Kern County school children had submitted names. The 20 children who put forward the name Cinnamon will all receive free one year family memberships to CALM.
Eleven year-old Garrett Moss, one of those who thought of the name Cinnamon, was at CALM to see the young bear introduced and was excited.
“I think he’s having a great time, and he’ll love CALM,” Moss said. “He’ll have a blast here. I’m real excited about getting the family membership. I’ll be coming here about every day, if my family will let me.”
As Cinnamon settles into his new digs, CALM continues to plan for a future that will include the memory of Digger.
“Speaking of Digger, a proposed Digger’s Den memorial cave will be built on to the visitor’s entrance to the bear exhibit,” Hewett told the audience. “What is now just a short block wall will be transformed into a life-sized mountain cave entrance to a bear’s den. We welcome your donations to this project.”
Founded in 1983, CALM only houses animals native to California that are injured, orphaned or unable to care for themselves in their native environment. CALM is located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway, between Hart Park and Lake Ming, and open Tuesday though Sunday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
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