Alaskan city invaded by multi-colored bears A life-size, fiberglass bear statue painted as a birch forest stands in front of a business, All About You Medical Spa, on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Dan Joling)
Alaskan city invaded by multi-colored bears
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Alaska's largest city is home to more than 300 grizzly and black bears - and now more than a dozen multicolored ones.
 
Life-size statues painted by city artists for a public art installation called "Bears on Parade" are popping up as part of an effort to raise awareness that if you live in Anchorage, you live near bears.
 
"The whole point of this was to engage in conversation about bears and their habitat - the food that they eat, where they live," said Brenda Carlson. She is a tourism official. She helped organize the program.
 
Anchorage is a city that spans 1,958 square miles. People occupy only about 204 square miles, according to the state Department of Fish and Game. The rest of Anchorage includes national forest, a state wildlife refuge, 55 to 65 grizzlies and 250 to 350 black bears.
 
Bears can be deadly if they are surprised. The department's Anchorage Bear Committee, which is dedicated to bear conservation, tries to educate people about how to live alongside the animals.
 
"Not all bears eat salmon," said Carlson, also a committee member. "Some eat berries, depending on where they are. We really wanted it to spark conversation about the bears."
 
The panel wanted to coordinate the installation of statues with a summer conference of 700 international bear scientists. They were brought to Anchorage by the International Association for Bear Research & Management.
 
Carlson reached out to America's Fiberglass Animals of Seward, Nebraska. The organization has helped create more than 300 public art projects with fiberglass sculptures.
 
Fifteen bears arrived by flatbed truck looking like polar bears. They were completely white. Sponsors paid either $1,750 or $3,000 for bears. So far, 13 have been painted, sealed and erected.
 
Artists received loose instructions. The adornment had to be family-friendly. And it had to reflect the beauty of Alaska, Carlson said.
 
One bear has a birch forest painted on its side. Others are painted with rivers, wildflowers or the northern lights. A bear sponsored by an ice cream shop has a tongue that appears to be licking ice cream off its face.
 
"I love that tongue," Carlson said. And, it could fit into the theme of what a bear should not eat - human food.
 
"Make sure your trash is put away. Because that trash bear will be a problem," she said.
 
The statues arrived too late for the early summer bear conference. But some scientists will benefit. The committee is donating nearly $8,000 from statue sponsorships to the next conference to cover scientists' expenses.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why are the life-sized statues brightly colored, instead of brown or black?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (92)
  • loganm1-dav
    9/22/2016 - 09:27 p.m.

    I agree and I think its super cool that u can order a bear and paint it to express yourself and that they can make a stand for bears. Anchorage has very few grizzly so they need to show their support. Plus, these bears will bring more culture to the town and it brings life to the town. It's cool that they used fiberglass to make these bears and then colored them in. It's super fresh to have this happen but some people may think this will attract live bears but bears aren't colored in people.

  • giavannac-orv
    9/23/2016 - 08:04 a.m.

    They do that so it doesn't look like a regular brown or black bear.

  • tiffanyh-ste
    9/23/2016 - 11:55 a.m.

    This is cool. It brightens up the town and brings cheer. That would be cool to do around Newport.

  • jackiek-orv
    9/25/2016 - 02:22 p.m.

    the life-sized statues brightly colored, instead of brown or black because if a bear saw that bear painted brown or black they might go over to see why it's there and that bear that came might stay there.

  • tyk1-har
    9/26/2016 - 07:43 a.m.

    The statues are brightly colored because it will make it so people want to see it and look at it. If the bears were brown and black it will be boring because it is all ways brown or black. The bears would be cool to see because it all ways brown or black because that's the color you see if you see a bear in real life. I like the colored bear because it looks special and cool.

  • emmar1-stu
    9/26/2016 - 01:04 p.m.

    I love the idea of having a painted bear in front of someones house!

  • tylers531-stu
    9/26/2016 - 01:08 p.m.

    i think that it is cool to have panted baers. i would love to live up there to see baers i would go look for them. it is cool that all over the world there are diffrent tipes of animals to go and see.

  • johanm-stu
    9/26/2016 - 03:08 p.m.

    its really cool how they made the sculptures. maybe they would try to atack the sculptures.

  • evanl-stu
    9/27/2016 - 12:59 p.m.

    i like that they are doing something that standsout to save the bears habitat

  • brooklynb-stu
    9/27/2016 - 01:09 p.m.

    I think that these bears are brightly colored because it is much prettier then a normal brown or black bear.

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