Where the Sandia and Manzano mountains meet the plains east of Albuquerque lives a bear named Koshari. Tagged three times by New Mexico Game and Fish in 2005 for nuisance behavior, he’s one lucky bear.
On Friday morning I took the long way from Santa Fe south to Edgewood, down the scenic Turquoise Trail. My destination was Wildlife West Nature Park, a zoo where all of the animals are native to the Southwest and most have been rescued after being injured or becoming habituated to humans, no longer able to live in the wild.
The park reminds me of my backyard on a much larger scale with a different mountain range in the distance–lots of open ground dotted with pinyon pines, juniper trees, cholla cacti, native grasses, and wild flowers.
The bear habitat is the next to last one on the loop around the zoo and I found Koshari napping directly in front of the viewing window–sprawled out on his back, four paws up.
Named for the Native American clown (Koshare), the black bear has been at the park for nine years, since he was two-years-old, just a youngster. He came from the Navajo Lake area in northern New Mexico where he discovered the easiest and tastiest lunches came out of the coolers on houseboats. His life was spared with a generous donation to construct a half-acre bear habitat at WIldlife West.
It’s all about food for bears and Koshari is no exception. He is fed a varied diet–fruit, vegetables, meat, dog kibble. As winter approaches, like his cousins in the wild, he increases his calorie count, eating upwards of 20,000 a day. Although he doesn’t hibernate he does slow down, eating much less during the dark and cold months.
Eyes still closed, Koshari rolled over on his side, swatted a pesky fly, and covered his face with a paw. Before leaving I dropped a couple of dollars in a donation box used for special treats for the bruin–one of the few acceptable ways to contribute to the feeding of a bear.