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Baby bear bonanza

Babies are born all over the peninsula every day, but Sequim now hosts one that's not so common.

Kitty, an 8-week-old baby black bear, now resides at Olympic Game Farm, 1423 Ward Road.

Robert Beebe, president and general manager of the farm, bought the bear from a farm in Minnesota to help increase the black bear population on the Sequim site.

"This is something we've wanted to do for a while," Beebe said.

Currently, the game farm has four elderly black bears that are beyond breeding age.

Kitty won't breed until Beebe acquires one more female and a male black bear cub for the farm.

"Genetics is something we have to consider," Beebe said.

The current bears didn't breed, which puzzles Beebe, but he is optimistic for the farm's bear population.

He said he always is looking for more bears through other farms and breeders but winter weather and cost are obstacles.

Bears were common guests of Beebe's family. Kitty is named after Beebe's grandmother Catherine, who lived in Nooksak. She raised bears when Beebe was a boy.

Beebe brings the new cub with him for everyday tasks. He keeps Kitty in his coat while he goes to the bank or gets coffee. It helps the bear grow accustomed to humans.

He said it works the other way around, too.

"Everywhere I go, people are just ecstatic for her."

Many people think Kitty will be mean and growling, but she is a baby and has soft fur, Beebe said.

However, the public won't be able to touch Kitty when she grows up. Beebe estimates that she will be available for visitors to view in two months, depending on the weather and how well she does with exposure to new noises and crowds. Right now she is still young enough to be developing her motor skills and her foot pads for walking and climbing. By the end of the year she'll be full size but leaner than older bears.

Game farm trainer Jennifer Lackie feeds Kitty throughout the day. Between feedings, Kitty just sleeps in her pen.

"At this age, they are all about eating and sleeping," Lackie said.

Kitty tried to eat an apple a few days earlier, which was good because she'd only drunk formula. The cub has a special formula that the farm has used for its bears since it first opened.

Olympic Game Farm has been involved in Hollywood movies for 50 years and Beebe hopes to get his animals back into performances, as they've been absent from commercial shoots and movies for several years.

The last movie they were involved in was "Shoot to Kill," starring Sidney Poitier.

Beebe hopes to use Kitty in commercials for the farm -- but nothing strenuous.

"No jumping fences or anything like that," he said.

The farm has a U.S. Department of Agriculture license to keep Kitty and its other animals. The farm is privately funded.

More information can be found on the farm's Web site,

www.olygamefarm.com.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.



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