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September 2, 2009 > California Grizzly in Hayward

California Grizzly in Hayward

The traveling exhibition, "Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly" opens at the Downtown Museum in Hayward this month. The exhibit explores the complex relationship that Californians have had with the grizzly bear, one of both fear and fascination. Although now extinct in the state, the grizzly has long been a central character in California's history.

The California Grizzly possessed characteristics that we tend to admire: independence, adaptability, resourcefulness, intelligence, and strong maternal care. Yet human interaction with the bears since Europeans first began settling the state was misguided, intolerant, and violent.

Scientists estimate that 10,000 grizzlies once lived in California, perhaps the densest population of bears on the continent. The Hayward area had its share too. There are references in diaries from early settlers in the area to grizzly bears causing trouble on farms: eating crops, breaking fences, and attacking cattle. As more people settled throughout California, the bear's lost more and more of their habitat. By the early1900s the California grizzly had vanished from lack of food sources and over hunting of the grizzly for food or sport. At the turn of the twentieth century the grizzly bear could only be seen on the state flag.

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, striking 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.

The exhibition is based on the Heyday Books publication, Bear in Mind: The California Grizzly by Susan Snyder, as well as The Bancroft Library exhibition of the same name.

Currently scheduled for installation at more than 17 museums across the state over the next three years, "Bear In Mind" will be on display at the Downtown Museum through January 2, 2010.

"Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly"
Saturday, September 3
Tuesday through Saturday
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Downtown Museum
22701 Main Street, Hayward
(On the corner of "C" Street and Main Street in downtown Hayward)

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