A Grade 5 class at Coquihalla Elementary School have a different kind of class pet, a rescue bear. After a recent class vote, the young bear has been named S’more and students are eagerly awaiting more information about him once he emerges from hibernation. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

B.C. elementary students adopt a bear, name him S’more

Orphaned black bear teaching Hope Grade 5 students valuable wildlife facts

He could have been Pingu, Yogi, Blackberry or Bob, but the Grade 5 class at Coquihalla Elementary School in Hope decided S’more was a better fit for the name of their newly adopted 35-kilogram rescued black bear.

S’more is a more unorthodox choice of pet for grade school classrooms, which usually house hamsters, guinea pigs, or if the teacher is adventurous, a snake or iguana. And if it wasn’t for Grade 5 teacher Danny Froese and enterprising parent Catherine Friemark, the black bear may never have become the classroom favourite he now is.

Around Christmas, Catherine Freimark and her daughter Violette were thinking of what to get Froese. Not wanting to clutter his cupboards with another ‘best teacher in the world’ mug, the family decided on something different.

“She remembers me saying that I wanted a class pet, but I didn’t want all the work,” Froese said.

The idea of adopting a wild animal came from the family’s visit to Wolf Haven, a wolf sanctuary in Washington State, where Freimark spotted a classroom adoption kit. She decided to contact Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, where S’more is currently hibernating, to ask about doing the same for a bear.

The shelter takes in injured and orphaned wildlife including owls, otters and wolves, with a goal of returning them to the wild. It is a small operation, run by five people, and co-founder and manager Angelika Langen said the classroom adoption is the first one the shelter has done.

Caught by a conservation officer in Quesnel together with his sister in October 2017 after his mother was hit by a car, S’more arrived at Northern Lights and was put into hibernation a few weeks later. Despite not having a lot of information about S’more, more will follow once he wakes up, hands flew up around the classroom when asked what they had learned so far.

“They can be found in Canada, Northern Mexico and the United States of America. They can live up to 20 years old in the wild. Cubs are born in January and February,” Keira Brunn presented.

Jade Wood said she didn’t know bears ate apples, in fact apples are S’more’s favourite food.Kastor Hansen said he learned bears can weigh up to 450 pounds.

“I didn’t know they were actually such good climbers,” said Violette Freimark. “They can climb up to half a tree, that’s an adult bear. Baby bears can climb three-quarters.”

The class then continued to share their bear stories, with one student telling the story of a black bear he saw in his yard the night before.

The students have integrated S’more into their curriculum with a creative writing assignment, imagining what S’more’s life will be like once he awakes.

“A couple of them got creative, a little silly, a couple of them were a little more realistic,” Froese said. Once again, hands flew up when Froese asked his class to present their stories.

There are also plans for bear art once S’more awakes.

The students live in a place which black bears frequent, so the knowledge they gain through S’more can be life-saving for other bears.

“It’s a great chance to educate. People that have a personal investment, it’s their bear, they named it…it gives a great opportunity to educate kids about bears and what they are and how they behave,” Langen said. “It might take some of the fears and myths away too.”

These fears humans have, who come in contact with bears, may lead to conflict situations and to bears being put down.

“To have a bear is usually a scary thing. But when you actually have a bear cub it’s interesting,” said Gretel Sims. “You get to see videos or photos, it’s really neat.”

Langen said education, in particular educating young people, is always a welcome opportunity at Northern Wildlife.

“The young people are really, really important because that’s the generation that has to take over when we can’t do it anymore,” she said.

There are also intangible things Freimark hopes students learn.

“It really brought forward to the kids, I think, the idea of giving back to the community and that a pet doesn’t have to be something that you pick up in a pet store,” she said.


Is there more to this story?


emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The Grade 5 class have integrated S’more into their curriculum with a creative writing assignment, imagining what S’more’s life will be like once he awakes. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Just Posted

Surrey LRT decision ‘really sets White Rock back’: mayor

Walker says his focus now is making sure residents can access transit network

VIDEO: Santa Claus arrives at Surrey Memorial Hospital by helicopter, visits children

Jolly old elf made stops at five hospitals in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

Surrey Memorial patients receive gifts from hospital staff

‘What Matters to You’ wish campaign received $5,000 in funding for project

North Delta apartment development heading to public hearing

The proposed 188-home Scott and Nicholson was given first and second reading by council on Dec. 17

Surrey adds more parkland to its inventory

City aquired Campbell Heights property

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

Coquihalla closed between Hope and Merritt

The highway is closed in the northbound lane

FortisBC says you can return to normal gas use following pipeline fire

Utility says increased pipeline capacity, warmer weather have allowed supply to reach normal levels

CSIS collected info on peaceful groups, but only in pursuit of threats: watchdog

Security Intelligence Review Committee says fears unjustified after reviewing evidence, testimony

Lower Mainland man receives apology after getting kicked out of library

Mike Wilson fears the same treatment he received Nov. 2 by security guards will happen to others

Canada ranks 16th on annual gender gap list

This is the second year Canada has placed 16th in the World Economic Forum’s list

VIDEO: Tornado rips through city west of Seattle

Reports indicate five to seven homes damaged in Port Orchard, Wash.

Surrey boy’s birthday wish raises $13,500 for rescued farm animals

Matthew Farden received a large donation from the mister Blake Foundation towards a sanctuary farm.

Trial date postponed for man charged with killing Abbotsford police officer

Oscar Arfmann’s trial pushed back from January to May 2019

Most Read

l -->