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Como Zoo: The Polar Bear Odyssey by Ann Treacy
April 13, 2011, 3:53 am
Filed under: St Paul

Spring sprang late last week. It was so nice and we celebrated with a trip to the Como Zoo. We had not been to the zoo in at least a year. Somehow we managed to miss the opening of the Polar Bear Odyssey last year (darned summers in Ireland). I love the Polar Bears. I could watch them in their old space for hours. One bear pacing in the corner; the other swimming tiny laps in the pool. Really he just glided into a back flip turn and back again. So I was very excited to see what the new space was like.

The space is nice. Apparently they built the space for more than four bears, although there are currently only two. There are two outdoor space for the bears. One includes the nice underwater view that we’ve always had at Como Zoo. There’s also an indoor space where they are started to do training with the bears.

But despite all of the new space – the bears are the same. One paces back and forth; the other swims his laps. It made me a little sad, until I spoke to one of the zookeepers. It turns out that the pacing (in and out of water) is not a sign of boredom or tension or insanity. It’s just a natural habit for the bears. It’s a habit that bears maintain in zoos everywhere. The Polar Bears in Como Zoo are actually twins. One (the pacer) is more dominant. And it turns out they don’t pace/swim the whole time. While we were there we saw some of the Polar Bear training. The trainers open the doors to the various segments of the exhibit and the bears roam to the training area and both outdoor spaces. The zookeeper told us that at night, the bears are able to get even more space.

So we left bigger Polar Bear fans than we arrived.

But we didn’t just see the Polar Bears. We saw Sparky the seal practicing his summer act. That was kind of a thrill. Most of the close seats are blocked off. Nothing is announced so it feel like s sneaky peek, which of course makes it much more fun. We don’t want to give away the show, but we sill say that Sparky looks prepared.

We made out way through the tropical area. We actually saw the sloth move. I’ve been there loads of times but never seen the sloth actually move – more than an inch or two. He seemed to stretch. We also saw the ugliest toad I have ever seen – the Surinam toad. It looks like a deflated whoopee cushion with tiny arms and legs.

We rounded out our trip with seeing the big cats, the giraffes and zebras (hoofed animals) and seeing some of the flowers in the Conservatory. If you want a quick blast of a springy future – breathe in deeply at the Conservatory. It smells amazing!

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