Dr. Don Moore, wildlife biologist and polar bear expert featured on “Polar Bear Town”

Dr. Don Moore—who wears many hats, among them scientist, wildlife biologist, Oregon Zoo director, and expert on polar bears featured in “Polar Bear Town,” a Smithsonian Channel docu-series examining the annual migration of polar bears to Churchill, Manitoba—outlines when his interest in polar bears was piqued. Moore explains that his experience with bears traces back decades, noting that he began working with polar bears in parks and zoos in the 1990s. ik-bearThis leads to an immediate digression (my fault! I asked!) about Gus, the infamous polar bear at the Central Park Zoo in the 90s who exhibited notably neurotic behavior, eliciting tremendous public attention, media coverage, a song by the Canadian band The Tragically Hip—and, it turns out, Moore worked with Gus, helping improve his habitat, enrichment program and other aspects of his life at the Zoo. Dealing more with the core of “Polar Bear Town,” Moore describes the migration of the polar bear that leads them to Churchill—a town of 800 that, 3743786796_781d40dc44in the migration period of October-November, plays host to more than 1000 hungry polar bears, and 10,000 tourists visit each year to witness this phenomenon. He discusses the measures that Manitoba Conservation officers and other officials have put in place to mitigate the dangers of the conflict between the humans living or visiting there and the polar bears wandering in and around the town—and the added vigilance since the previous Halloween, when a Churchill resident, Erin Greene, was attacked by a polar bear. Moore also touches on Brian Ladoon—a colorful, if polarizing character prominently featured in the series—who operates a Canadian Eskimo dog “sanctuary,” and in feeding his dogs, attracts the hungry polar bears and charges tourists admission to the sanctuary to get a closer look at the bears. This interview was mere days after it was revealed that a viral video of a screen-shotpolar bear petting a dog (shot at Ladoon’s place) held a grim back story: one of the bears had eaten one of the dogs, though it wasn’t clear that they were the bear and dog featured in the video. Moore also talks about the sixth episode of this series, in which he is prominently featured, tracking (alongside fellow scientists) mother polar bears and their cubs, who have emerged from birthing dens–and amplifies a statement he makes onscreen about mother polar bears exhibiting the most incredible maternal behavior of any mammal on the planet.  Moore also spends some time addressing the implications of climate change for polar bears. (www.smithsonianchannel.com/shows/polar-bear-town/1004349, www.facebook.com/polarbeartown/)


ALSO: I spoke briefly with Joan Zacharias, co-founder of Tampa’s ThanksVegan Dinner, marking its 11th year of gathering folks on Thanksgiving Day for a sprawling vegan buffet. (www.floridavoicesforanimals.org/thanksvegan, www.facebook.com/ThanksVegan


COMEDY CORNER: Dana Gould’s “Snakes & Alligators” (www.danagould.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals (intended to play The Tragically Hip’s “Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park,” but ran short on time)

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Sharon Jones “Fish In The Dish” R.I.P., Sharon


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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