First of all, I want to let you know: I'm a big fan of Orlando Sentinel reporter Stephen Hudak.
In fact, I have a lot respect for journalists, especially former co-workers at the Sentinel. I left the paper a year ago to take a new career path in marketing. It was a great move for me. I'm still friends with folks from the newspaper. That being said, I wasn't a fan of how they played the update about the Sanford Zoo's new bear exhibit.
In fact, I was shocked when I realized how deep into the story I read before I got to hear about the fate of the bear that mauled a Seminole County woman four years ago.
The 271-pound female badass is still alive. She was moved to an Arkansas wildlife refuge last September. And she picked up a pretty name, Popper, in the process. Sounds like a witness-protection plan, almost.
Except it's really more like aggressor-protection plan. The other "witness," the victim, is still probably suffering, either physically or emotionally after the attack in her Seminole County neighborhood off Markham Woods Road. Her attack shouldn't be glossed over or forgotten.
Popper shouldn't fade away, either. I don't think the bear should die. But it should have some role in the new exhibit since the stated theme is to educate us about bears and the consequences of unhealthy human-bear encounters.
We have a lot to learn as a species and as a neighbor in Central Florida Bear Country. Shouldn't we learn from real-world examples, even when they are scary?
Sure, the story of bear siblings Ella and Guignard (named for zoo donors) fits nicely into the theme of the new exhibit at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens on U.S. Highway 17-92. But why tease the story with the headline "Central Florida Zoo opens bear exhibit without infamous bear?" It's puzzling.
I'm not blaming Steve or anyone in particular at the Sentinel. I realize a lot people are involved in making decisions and there never seems to be enough time for everything and everybody.
I'm just disappointed, I guess, that I didn't learn more about more about Popper's backstory. What's up with her personality?
I guess I'll never find out from the zoo, unfortunately. It probably not the kind of news zoo donors want to publicize -- even when it's true and important information for Central Florida residents and visitors. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to visiting the exhibit in the near future.
As a DeBary resident, I'm very appreciative to have the zoo as my neighbor. And I'm proud to say I'm a loyal Sentinel subscriber.