New Morro Bay exhibit explores the history of the California grizzly bear | Races & Corks | San Luis Obispo

Grizzly bears are an enduring symbol of California – their fierce, independent spirits adopted for centuries as a reflection of the state itself.

But while Californians loved the idea of ​​the grizzly, we never cared much about the bears themselves.

Between the mid-1700s and the early 1900s, European and American settlers in California drove the entire population of brown bears, around 10,000 strong, into extinction. The last sighting of a grizzly bear in California dates back to 1924.

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  • Image courtesy of Amy Hart
  • CALIFORNIA SYMBOL A new exhibit on the history of the California grizzly bear is currently on display at the Morro Bay Museum of Natural History through January 16.

“The grizzly bear is a symbol of the American West – always known to represent California as a wild and untamed state. But ironically, the grizzly bear does not exist in California and we only see it as a symbol on our flag. State “said Amy hart, historian of California State Parks SLO Coastal District.

So what happened to the California grizzly bear? How did he define our state? What lessons has extinction taught us? The Morro Bay Natural History Museum has a new traveling exhibition, Keep in mind: the story of the California grizzly, which delves into these questions and more.

Sponsored by the Central Coast State Parks Association, and open until January 16, the Bear in Mind exhibit explores not only the history of the grizzly bear in California, but its impact on our popular culture and politics.

This story is told at the Morro Bay Museum through stories, artifacts, images and hands-on activities, giving viewers an ‘in-depth examination of the history and science of California’s most revered and feared animals. According to a state park press. Release.

Hart said New times that the exhibition is suitable for all ages. It gives an interesting insight into how the grizzly bear left its mark in California, and vice versa, she said.

“They have this charisma that we appreciate,” Hart said. “They are independent and adaptable, resourceful and intelligent. We adopted these characteristics, but ironically, people didn’t want to live next to bears.”

Grizzly bears roamed the central coast, as evidenced by local place names like Lake Oso Flaco and Los Osos (“oso” is the Spanish word for “bear”). But grizzly bears became a common target of the Spanish when they first settled in the area in the 1700s.

“It was the start of their demise, when the Spaniards arrived,” Hart said.

The introduction of guns to the state also made it easier to kill grizzly bears. But Hart noted that even native communities have had run-ins with grizzly bears.

“They’re bigger. They’re a bit more aggressive,” she said.

The Morro Bay Natural History Museum is located at 20 State Park Road, near the Morro Bay State Park Campground, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $ 3 for adults and free for children, and the exhibit is free at the entrance. Masks are compulsory.

“It’s in the big auditorium. It’s a big exhibit,” Hart said. “There are interactive elements for the kids and a corner where kids can sit and learn about grizzly bears and compare the size of the paw to the size of the hand. ”

The grizzly bear exhibit isn’t the only state park offering right now. It is also collaborating with the Wine history project on an exhibition on the local history of Prohibition, at Spooner Ranch House in Montaña de Oro. A launch party for this exhibition will take place on December 2 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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Edward K. Thompson