Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CALM - Adventures in Bako

Black Bears at CALM
This past Saturday I got the chance to visit the California Living Museum in north Bakersfield. It happened to be the same time as their special event, "Boo at the Zoo." This meant the place was swarming with children dressed as pirates, witches, fairies, and superheros. In the green spaces there were games where children could win candy. Professional face-painting was available as well as a number of different food vendors.

Beyond the special event however, CALM (as it is affectionately known) is a great place. It's filled with native wildlife from all over California, complete with a reptile house, small mammals, foxes, bears, and birds of prey. This isn't to mention the large cats.

I had no idea there were so many different kinds of snakes in California alone. I should have known, I guess, except I'm not very curious about reptiles usually and I certainly don't think about them on a regular basis. Even though I wouldn't consider myself a snake person, many of the animals were incredibly beautiful with their colorful glistening scales and their perfectly camouflaged bodies.

Along with the reptiles were small mammals. It was the first time I had seen a desert rat up close. Frankly they're much cuter than regular rats, even with the scaly tails. In other enclosures porcupines and skunks slept sweetly reminding me of animals that have been close to me (Specifically I think of my cat. Is it weird that I compare wild animals to my pet cat?). Unfortunately most of the animals on display were nocturnal, so the majority of the animals were asleep.

With the bears it was humorous. The two black bears were sleeping at the edge of their enclosure - one of them was on his back. This one's legs were splayed, his mouth hanging open, and every so often his jaw would shake or clench like he was in the middle of a food dream.

Mountain Lion at CALM
While there were other animals there - all of them interesting and stunning, including the regal birds of prey - none compared to the awesome power of the great cats. At the cat enclosure, the bobcats and the mountain lions were being fed. Because of "Boo at the Zoo" they were being fed their regular meals encased in jack-o-lanterns. The small bobcats marched around their space happily gnawing on bits of flesh. Meanwhile, the mountain lions were exploding their jack-o-lanterns filled with meat.

CALM isn't the biggest zoo, but it's a good size with good exhibits that is a great place to take your family (or just because). It has interesting animals and has fun events for children (did I forget to mention it has a train?). If you're in Bakersfield and have a free afternoon, the California Living Museum is definitely a place you want to check out.

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