Set The WayBack Machine To 1990 Sherman


Ah, yes. I remember it well.

That was a time in my life, BC (Before Child) when I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors for our local Zoo.

My proudest achievement there was my appointment as Chairman for our Zoo's Animal Adoption Program, a new fund-raising venture.

Er, "Program" would infer that I had a slew of staff to supervise, but in reality there was one part-time secretary and myself. Regardless, the two of us brought nearly $ 40,000 in donations for the Zoo in a few short weeks.

We had been given the monumental task of creating all the promotional material, advertising, collecting donations, researching facts and developing and mailing donor packages. The majority of which I did from home. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was a once in a lifetime experience as well.

Because I also did the artwork for information sheets, bumper stickers and decals in the package donors received, I was privy to "backstage" tours of exhibits.

I had the run of the Zoo and made some wonderful new friends... animals and people alike.

I even got to help out at "Feeding Time".

I learned a lot about all the different species, from Prairie Dogs to Siberian Tigers. For an animal lover like me, it was a dream come true. I was honored to be a part of the Zoo family.

Why am I taking this stroll down memory lane today?

Because it is a very sad time for Winnipeg. A VIP* from the Zoo passed on a few days ago at the tender age of 42.

Okay, maybe not so tender... for a polar bear.

We are mourning the loss of one incredible Winnipegger.

Debby the Polar Bear was a city celebrity and a world record holder. Yes, she was officially sanctioned by Guiness as the oldest polar bear in captivity. Probably in the world. Ever.

Debby was the bear I, like most Winnipeg children, watched in wonder as she swam, played, posed for our cameras and bore six cubs since 1966.

Rest in Peace Debby. You will be missed.

And our Zoo will never be quite the same ever again.

* Very Important Polar bear

18 People would rather be commenting:

VioletSky said...

Ah, yes, I remember visiting Debby on my first visit to Winnipeg many, many years ago before she became such a celebrity. What a long life she had, and to have been so loved.

What a fascinating job that must have been.

Unknown said...

That is very sad. Animals like that seem to dominate a zoo, making their loss seem greater than ever :O(

Kathy said...

What a sad story, but such a triumph for Debby to make it that long (and her mate did, too!) I'm glad you had an up close and personal experience.

Anonymous said...

I've never been to Winnipeg or I guess from what I've read (was it here and elsewhere) the Scranton of the North. But I'm sorry to hear about Winnipeg's loss. Truly, she will be missed.

Fancy Schmancy said...

While I've never been there, I'm sure she was amazing. You must consider yourself truly lucky to have known a polar bear like that, personally.

Maureen said...

VioletSky: That's great you remember. It was great to be a part of making a difference and really helping out at the Zoo.

Sukie: I know. I am so sad... a real piece of history, she was.

Kathy: You are right. She never would have lived as long in the wild. I just wish they would have kept one of her cubs. Now we don't have polar bears at all; and it will be a decade before they will return.

Unfinished Rambler: Yes, I did a post on The Office! Thanks so much; she was one of a kind for sure!

Fancy Schmancy: I truely am lucky to have had so many opportunities and experiences; this was one that I will never forget. Thanks.

Bee said...

Awww! :o(
Polar Bears are so beautiful!

Heather said...

Aww! Poor Debby! It sounds like she lived a good long life though. And awesome job on the drawings, btw. You're very talented!

eve cleveland said...

I'm bummed that a bear was a better person than me.
Thanks, where's the bar?

Anonymous said...

Quite some responsibility you had there! Good job! ;)

I don't remember Debbie - of course - but I remember how sad the nation was here when Chi-Chi the Giant Panda died in 1972.

Unknown said...

Wonderful artwork you did. Lovely stuff. It's sad about the bear, really, but she lived long and that's the important thing. Her life wasn't shortened by captivity.

Unknown said...

I've never met Debby, but I miss her, anyway.

I do miss our polar bears, who are away while their exhibit is improved ...

Jill said...

Awwww. Sorry about Debby. Neat story on the zoo gig though.

Swubird said...


I have a always been an animal lover. As a little kid I had dogs and cats and an assortment of lizards, tadpoles, horny toads, snakes and fish. I collected everything.

I loved the big animals too, and I used looked forward to those days when we would go to the San Diego Zoo. Those were some of the best days in my young life.

My love of animals followed me into my adult life and, I still have a soft spot for all living things. I won't even kill a cricket if I don't have to. I'd rather throw him out into the yard. So it saddens me to hear that your beloved bear passed away. She must have been a happy bear to give birth to six cubs.

I think it was very honorable of you to administer the Adoption Program. It was time well spent for a very worthy cause, and I'm sure it saved many lives. I'm proud of you.

Happy trails.

Ed & Jeanne said...

Sorry to hear about Debby. Sounds like she had a nice long life. You'll be receiving your life-like animatronic polar bear in the mail real soon to replace her...

Maureen said...

Bee: Yes, they ARE beautiful... and Debby was a real sweetheart - gentle with a funny personality.

Aw, thank you Heather!

Eve: I would say I can relate to animals far easier than people... she was far better than me too.

Jay: It is sad when they pass; but she graced us for a long, long time and touched many people!

Lceel: Exactly. I have to keep remembering that.

Dorky Dad: At least your bears are coming back. We won't have polars for a long time until we revamp our Zoo as well.

Jill: I am one of the lucky ones who got to work up close with some incredible beings we share this world with. If I had my druthers, I would have had it as a full time paying job!

Aw, Swubird, you make me blush. I was honored to have the opportunity. I have been very lucky with some of my life's experiences; and working at the Zoo was a wonderful time. You sound just like me; I am an animal lover as well which is why I tear up when we lose one as majestic as Debby.

VE: Har! You just may be right. No, I hope future generations of Winnipeggers will one day have another polar bear to laugh, learn and gaze at in awe at.

Cupcake Blonde said...

This is so sad. Poor Debby. But she did live a lobg and probably happy life. Much longer than she would have had in the wild.

What a incredibly cool job you had! And those sketches are amazing!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Oh, so sorry Debby has gone to the big iceberg in the sky. And your drawings were fabulous. Is there an end to your talents Miss M?

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