Betty and Veronica are moving on up.
Actually, grizzly bears Betty and Veronica have moved down a few miles, from the Bronx to Manhattan. After two decades of delighting visitors at the Bronx Zoo, the charming, hefty females settled into lusher digs at the Central Park Zoo last week.
The grizzlies moved into quarters formerly occupied by the late Gus, a polar bear who, after being diagnosed with depression, was callously referred to as the “bi-polar bear” and responded by swimming laps across his pool, largely ignoring zoo visitors.
But Betty and Veronica (Betty is the blondish one, as in the comic books) are friendlier and more engaging. They’ll stand up to get their bellies examined, and yes, have learned to wave to onlookers, according to the Bronx Zoo website.
The new habitat has been upgraded, with more waterfalls and streams, as well as an impressive landscape that will give the grizzlies “more verticality,” Craig Piper, director of city zoos, told The New York Times. The revamped pool is stocked with trout, and keepers scurry about each day scattering such delights as peanut butter smeared on a tree or buried sweet potatoes and berries for the grizzlies to discover.
So far, Betty and Veronica seem quite happy with their new accommodations. In fact, after spending only one week in Manhattan, rumor has it that Betty is already picking up a bit of an attitude, snarkily denigrating the food, lodging and animals in her old Bronx neighborhood. I even hear that when the zookeeper tries to keep her grounded by referring to her as “Betty from the Bronx,” the otherwise friendly female roars menacingly in his face. Probably just a rumor.
Will there be a red-furred Archie in the bears’ future? Zoo officials aren’t saying. Meanwhile, the new exhibit will “provide us with an opportunity to help people better understand how to safely coexist with bears when visiting or living in bear country,” Piper said.
Planning on living in bear country soon? Me neither. But a stroll or subway ride will take you right to Betty and Veronica’s lair.
They bear watching!
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.