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Los Altos History Museum salutes the grizzly in ‘Bear in Mind’ exhibition


Photo By: Courtesy of Laura Bajuk
Photo Courtesy Of Laura Bajuk

The California grizzly comes alive in all its glory at the latest Los Altos History Museum exhibition.

The Los Altos History Museum’s lastest exhibition, “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly,” opened last week and runs through March 24.

The exhibition is designed to illuminate the complex relationship between Californians and grizzlies, one of dualities – expressed in fear and fascination.

Although now extinct in the state, the grizzly has long been a central character in California’s history.

According to organizers of the display, the California grizzly possessed characteristics that many people value: independence, adaptability, resourcefulness, intelligence and strong maternal care. Yet human interaction with the bears often proved misguided, intolerant and violent.

Scientists estimate that 10,000 grizzlies once lived in California, perhaps the densest population of brown bears on the continent. However, through increased human settlement, loss of habitat and hunting, the California grizzly had vanished by the early 1900s and could only be seen on the state flag.

Although the loss of the California grizzly was a tragic lesson, organizers said, we are not too late to save other threatened and endangered species. Today, California grizzly bears only exist in our imaginations as symbols of things desired and things lost. Since the mid-1800s, the grizzly has been used as an icon, advertiser and entertainer, making the image of the bear a familiar one to most people.

Little physical evidence remains of the grizzly bears that once roamed California. It is through stories, artifacts, images and hands-on activities that the “Bear in Mind” exhibition provides an in-depth look at the history and science of California’s most revered and feared animals.

Free public programs at the museum complementing the exhibition include:

• Opening reception: 3-5 p.m. Sunday.

• Storytime: 10:30 a.m. to noon Dec. 8. Bring a teddy bear and listen to bear stories. Children under 12 must be accompanied an adult.

• Conversation with a naturalist: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Jan. 17.

Refreshments will be served at all events.

The “Bear in Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly” exhibition is based on the Heyday Books publication by Susan Snyder and the Bancroft Library display, both of the same name.

The Los Altos History Museum and J. Gilbert Smith House are located at 51 S. San Antonio Road. Admission is free. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. The gardens, outdoor agricultural exhibits and picnic area are accessible at all times.

For more information, visit www.losaltoshistory.org or all 948-9427.

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