BEAR FAMILY TREE
In the summer of 2015 I was lucky enough to spend time at Brooks Camp in Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska, well known as a gathering spot for large coastal Brown Bears to feast on returning pacific salmon. I was blown away by the experience of seeing one of nature’s most spectacular annual summertime dramas played out before me from the comfort of a well-built observation platform.
While I was at the camp I was asked to do an evening lecture on my artwork. As I prepared for the talk I began to wonder if visitors who’d gone to all the trouble and expense to watch the bears at Brooks Camp had any idea what bears might actually be related to. So I decided to do an informal survey and was totally surprised by the answers I got.
Only three people out of 100 got it right! Clearly something had to be done, so I set about drawing up a visual ‘family tree’ of bears. I reached out to various scientist friends and came up with this image. The inimitable Grace Freeman did the beautiful digital coloring.
So look closely my friends: what are the closest relatives of or beloved bears?