Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wild at Heart: The Grizzly Bear

Over the next week, I will be bringing you previews of the work that will be exhibited at May 26th's "Wild at Heart: Keep Wildlife in the Wild," the endangered species benefit that Andrew Hosner and I are co-curating at Thinkspace. 20% of the proceeds of the show will go to Born Free USA to help threatened wildlife. Hope to see you there!

Sean Chao "Camouflage" (detail)

The Grizzly Bear is a subspecies of Brown Bear that lives in the uplands of western North America. Brown bears were once abundant in North America, roaming the length of the continent from the Arctic Ocean through to central Mexico. The animal has no natural enemies in the wild — except humans. Needing large amounts of space to forage, the bear's natural range extends up to 500 square miles, and the expansion of human settlement has continuously encroached on their habitat and threatened their ability to survive.

The decline of the quintessential American brown bear, the grizzly, began with the arrival of European settlers in America. In less than a hundred years, they were eliminated from 98% of their original range. The California Grizzly or California Golden Bear, the subspecies which holds a place of honor on the state flag, has been extinct since 1922, when the last one was shot. Currently about 55,000 grizzlies remain in Canada and Alaska, but only 1,200 live in the continental U.S., mostly contained within the national parks of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Washington.

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