As I followed the direction in which my daughter’s finger was pointing, I saw an amazing site. A beautiful, and very agile, young black bear was climbing high into one of the trees of his enclosure at the Bearizona drive-thru Wildlife Park.
All I could think was…how incredibly cool is that! And then I hesitated, which made my daughter ask again, “well…can they?”
My family and I had driven three hours from Phoenix to Williams in northern Arizona to experience Bearizona and to us, it was worth every minute. Considering that I’m not one for hiking or camping in the wilderness, places like Bearizona are perfect for me to enjoy wildlife from a respectable distance and from the luxury of my family’s car.
When we first arrived at the park, we set off down the driving path to see bison running through the woods, big horn sheep eating lunch, wolves playing around and huge bears lounging and enjoying pumpkins. Each group of animals was set off from each other by gates, but all of which were close enough for us to get a good look at them. As the driving path ended, we were able to park our car and walk through a more zoo like environment where the smaller animals were kept. As my daughter led the way, we saw baby raccoons, lynxes, foxes and bear cubs. This is where we saw the bear climbing his tree.
As my daughter and I watched the bear scramble higher into his tree, I knew fully well that bears couldn’t fly, but I just couldn’t help wonder, can he somehow…jump? My mind raced to calculate the chances …the estimated weight of the bear…the height of the tree…the possibility of a strong wind at that exact moment pushing the bear past the borders of his living space…does gravity play a role in this?
Satisfied that there is just no possible way the bear could leave (honestly, I just couldn’t work the numbers), I get past the moment of panic and I tell my daughter: “No, of course not sweetie, bears can’t fly, but isn’t he an amazing climber!”
He really was a beautiful sight, sitting high in his tree snacking on leaves. I quickly realized that I had never been that close to a bear to view such a sight and the encounter was wonderfully impressive.
Kiva Couchon is the Public Information Officer and the Communications Manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism. In addition to handling the internal communications for the office, Couchon promotes the agency’s program of work to state legislators, industry partners and consumers.