CALM is an acronym for California Living Museum. CALM is near enough to Bakersfield to be considered one of its attractions. In fact, it’s considered Bakersfield’s BEST attraction. That’s why we went there after taking pictures of the giant shoe and the Fox Theater. CALM is one of those places that locals love but outsiders might have problems with. I considered its seasonal light display rather ordinary, except for the peacock, while locals give it awards. CALM is basically a zoo. Some now have a problem with confined animals.
CALM justifies confining animals with 2 arguments. It claims that its 250 or so penned condors and other animals are not releasable because they cannot survive on their own in the wild due to physical disabilities, or they have long dependencies on humans. About a month before seeing CALM’s octopus tank, Ruth & I were in Sidney on Canada’s Vancouver Island where we spent a long time observing Pebbles, its resident female octopus. The octopi tank in CALM’s education room was empty. I asked the lady supervising the touch pool about the missing octopus, and she told me that they had one on order from the Monterey Aquarium. Pebbles was to be released by the Shaw Centre in Sidney back into the Salish Sea soon where she would probably spawn but then die. The CALM volunteer told me that her facility keeps an octopus until it dies in its tank. I must admit that I did enjoy looking at the jellyfish and the seahorses in the same room with the soon-to-be-occupied tank. CALM’s other claim is that it features only California creatures and accompanies each display with a map of this state showing the zoo resident’s natural habitat. There are many signs with the names of local businesses and national corporations thanking them for sponsoring the confined creatures. Again, I did enjoy seeing the large and active California cats in their area. I would otherwise never see or read about a California mountain lion or bobcat unless they attacked a running or hiking Californian.
We spent about an hour and a half wandering what CALM’s visitor guide calls “California’s premier native zoo and garden”. All of the other wanderers were either couples or families with small children. CALM claims that all of its plants and trees are California natives too. That’s a California Valley Oak above and one of the few trees at CALM not strung with Christmas lights in 2019’s last week. The 2 most popular areas seemed to be cats and raptors with the recovering California condor the star attraction. There were many ordinary animals like skunks and porcupines and beavers on display too.
The elderly volunteer in the Reptile House was delighted when I showed an interest in Al Robbins. He remembered Al fondly and loved telling me about him. Al settled in Bakersfield after being police commissioner of South Plainfield, New Jersey, and a performing magician. Al knew Houdini and entertained Al Capone before becoming the first magician to perform on TV. That’s a Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake below.