BAGHDAD Aca,!" Even through they didnAca,!a,,ct have the press Ling Ling and Ming Ming had when they were given to the United States by China, Baghdad ZooAca,!a,,cs newest residents, Sameer and Lamiyah, didnAca,!a,,ct seem to really care that more than 30 zoo officials and Coalition Forces members were on had to official open a new exhibit.

For the two Iraqi Brown Bears, after of brief moment of fighting, they stopped long enough to sniff one another before they immediately went to eat some food placed in their newly renovated bear habitat inside the Baghdad Zoo Nov. 1.

Aca,!A"The opening of the new bear cage is important of the zoo,Aca,!A? said Dr. Wasseem, Baghdad ZooAca,!a,,cs head veterinarian. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs also nice for the visitors but mostly for the bears.Aca,!A?

According to Wasseem, the old bear cages were too small and that the tile floors werenAca,!a,,ct good on the bearsAca,!a,,c feet. So, the new habitat, with its dirt and grass flooring will be a better environment for its new residents. The new cage is large enough for two more bears Aca,!" something zoo officials hope they can add as hope that the two may mate.

According to Sgt. 1st Class Herbert Mowery, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who currently serves as one of the special project officers for the Baghdad Zoo, the bear habitat project started in May with a lot of anticipation.

Aca,!A"The bears used to be kept in a small enclosure; so we found an area that was suitable for them,Aca,!A? said the Parkerdurg, W. V. native. Aca,!A"Today was such a good day for [Iraqis] because this is the center of Baghdad Aca,!A| the zoo is a national monument.Aca,!A?

Iraqi Brown Bears are indigenous to the northern part of Iraq. Zoo officials had the bears brought in for about $25,000 each.

Aca,!A"I think this will be great because most people want to see either the cheetahs or the bears,Aca,!A? Mowery said.

Mowery added that zoo officials hope that Sameer and Lamiyah may one day mate and give birth to some cubs. Lamiyah, who is about four years old, has already given birth to a few cubs a couple of years ago.

Capt. Amy Cronin, 15th BSBAca,!a,,cs special projects officer for the Baghdad Zoo, said the day was Aca,!A"awesome.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"In Iraq, the best advertising is word-of-mouth, and when everyone came here for the Eid holiday, visitation went up Aca,!A| more than a million people came here during that holiday,Aca,!A? Cronin said.

Cronin, who calls Carlisle, Pa., home, said she sees the zoo as Aca,!A"hopeAca,!A? for the Iraqis.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs an oasis Aca,!A| and itAca,!a,,cs a break from the everyday strife the Iraqis have to deal with,Aca,!A? she said. Aca,!A"I think anything we can do to help improve this or increase people to come here and realize that there is hope, I think that this will be a model example of that hope for the future of Iraq.Aca,!A?

For Dr. Adil, who has been in charge of the zoo since it was open, seeing the park in better shape than it has ever been is great for him.

Aca,!A"Everyone is going to see this and be happy and shocked to have the zoo open again,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"This is just a new opening for the rest of the zoo, and itAca,!a,,cs good to have the people here who helped us rebuild Aca,!A| especially when the zoo was in really bad shape.Aca,!A?

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16