Bakersfield, California 2021-08-01 18:00:00 –
The signed photo has been hung on the wall of the California Living Museum gift shop for nearly 20 years.
An image taken by California photographer Casey Christie, who retired on June 9, 2000, shows two boys. Their delighted faces are pressed against the windows of the new “cave-style” bear exhibit, and on the other side of the boy is named California’s Black Bear. The digger is pressing his face against the other side of the plexiglass.
What is the facial expression of the boy? It’s precious. But can the magic be repeated?
“I want to recreate that photo,” said CALM Zoo Manager Lana Fein.
“Where is it now,” said CALM director Meg Maitland.
And there is a problem there. Where are they exactly?
Twenty years after the shoot, zoo officials are seeking help to contact two boys (now men?) Identified by the photo captions as Zacquariot and JJ Thomas.
The search is ongoing, Fein said. She has already tentacled on the zoo’s website. But so far … no bites.
“It would be a lot of fun,” said the zoo manager.
Imagine the boys, now handsome young men, returning to CALM years later, according to Maitland. Did they learn anything at CALM? Did your educational experience influence them as older children and adults?
“It’s a cold case,” she said. “We are looking for these kids, but we can’t find them.”
Of course, the “kids” are probably pushing 30 if they haven’t reached the Big Three O yet.
How have they changed? Do they remember the day they had a bear-like close encounter at CALM?
Did they see Casey’s photo in California the day after they visited CALM? Did your relatives cut it out and glue it to your scrapbook?
Were Zack and JJ friends, or did they happen to be in the same place at the same time?
This reporter was also there on that June day. And Zack and JJ were one of about 300 children and adults who gathered to witness the grand opening of the new enclosure of bears Digger and Dart, who arrived at CALM as orphans nearly four years ago.
Greg Sanders, the director of the zoo at the time, told the Californians that the $ 350,000 cave was “as good as the California black bear enclosure.”
Digger and Dart have long gone — bears live 30-35 years in captivity — but their beloved brothers have been replaced by Cinnamon and Louis.
One of them would be able to pose with Zack and JJ if he had a young man.
A little peanut butter on the inside of the window may help.
Reporter Stephen Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @semayerTBC.
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