— by Susan Eirich, Ph.D. — There are places in Yellowstone National Park where alternating grizzly bear footsteps are worn deep into the earth, forming trails that lead to very specific sites at geothermal vents. These footsteps are almost sculpted into the ground as each bear places its foot precisely into the tracks of its predecessor, rubbing its feet sideways in each track. Arriving at the site the bears begin to eat the soil, high in potassium and sulphur. One theory is that the sulphur helps rejuvenate their digestive system after the long inactivity of hibernation, and they may be low in potassium after their winter’s fast. How do they know to go there? Does each bear...

Every evening I sit at my desk writing. For the past several months, out of the desk drawer, through a neatly chewed hole, pops a little nose, whiskers and bright black eyes. A mouse has moved into the drawer. Its not really good to have a mouse in a house. I set a live trap for her. Night after night, week after week, month after month she ignored it. Peanut butter; cheese, it mattered not. She had this cozy home in my drawer filled with papers. She stayed warm through the bitter winter. The drawer seemed to suit her just fine. Over time I sort of looked forward to her popping out, looking at me - then quick as a ghostly shadow she was across my desk on a journey to somewhere in the nether...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD -- Our bears are very tidy, economical eaters (Assuming they like the food). There is not a molecule of juicy orange flesh left, scooped out as neatly as with a spoon. If it were watermelon there would not be a molecule of pinkness left (they won't touch the rind). If it is grapes, each one is delicately picked off the stem, one by one. Jean says they can use their paws so delicately they could turn the pages of a book, though we haven't figured out a way to test that yet. There are endless surprises in the animal world. No-one can believe it when they see the bears eat. An interesting question is "Why?" What assumptions are we making?   Orange peels...

Two young foxes, Lightfoot and Sprite, were playing ecstatically in the “Small (In-Size-Only) Animal Garden. Suddenly above the berm appeared the head of a young female moose. She was on her way to the shelter of the wildlife corridor but apparently couldn’t resist the urge to see what was going on. We didn’t get a picture of it- it was too quick, but here is a rendering of a loose moose...

-- by Susan Eirich, PhD --

I walk with my head down against the brightness of the setting sun, seeing its reflected gleam on last year’s grasses lying flat after winter snows. Blinded by the sun my senses tune differently and I slowly become aware of the sound of rushing water – the spring snowmelt from the mountains has started! Life-giving clean cold mountain water, released from the winter snows just when things start growing. What an elegant system! While walking I hear the cry of wild geese and look in the direction of the call. There was a bonded pair, the tall stylish male and the smaller female walking side by side, close together in the vastness of the field. They were so clearly a couple. They were...