Murray and the Wall

Top Photo: Visitors gather to view Murray Bear (center) go through his paces.

Murray, our newest and youngest black bear is still settling in to his new home. All of our bears had to go through the same process of acclimating to new surroundings, and they’ve all come out of it well adjusted. Determined unreleasable in the wild due to their interactions with humans all our bears had no option but to be kept in captivity.

We, the museum staff, must also adjust to the challenges of housing new arrivals. Recently, Murray found a way up the rock face of his enclosure to the top of the cliff. No one saw how he managed this feat, but he did. It was decided that he had to come down.

He’s made the climb more than once. Each time he had to be crated and released in the side yard of the bear house. Upon release into the wider enclosure, he’d head straight for the cliff again.

Murray up on cliff.
Animal care folks Michaela, Patrick, Nicole, and Sherry prep the crate to transport Murray (standing at right) back to bear house.

While hopefully, no harm would come to the cub, the concern is that he may not be able to climb back down (ever see a cat up a tree?), or worse, potentially fall off the cliff. Neither case is likely (after all, he’s a bear not a cat) but there’s always the chance.

It was determined that there needed to be a barrier erected to convince the little bear to stay at ground level. Teamwork is the name of the game here at the museum and the Exhibits crew was called into action to scale the rock face, do some trim work on the vegetation (the bear likely utilized roots and vines as a climbing assists) and install electric fencing.

Skinny (top) and Cole help with the fencing project
First a little pruning by Skinny.
The installation of insulators directly into the rock, and wiring to carry the pulse.

The work was done in one morning, and so far, Murray has remained on the ground floor, so to speak. I didn’t witness him touching the wire but believe he made contact at one point evidenced by the caution seen in the next few photos.

A sniff or two at the insulator.
A paw comes close but he doesn’t commit.

If you want to see Murray, it’s a fairly sure bet he’ll be at the Main Overlook of the Black Bear Enclosure marching back and forth in front of the bear pool. This is your time to do it. He’s eventually going to find other things to do with his time and will not necessarily be as visible as he currently is. Come by and wish him well.

Murray at the pool.

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