Friday, October 3, 2014

Bear With Me... Betty & Veronica Say Farewell to Riverdale -- And Hello to the Zoo!!

I was on Facebook yesterday when I saw an Archie Comics-related story that seemed like a gag -- but it's all based on a true story!

It turns out that there is a pair of grizzly bears named Betty and Veronica who have been living at the Bronx Zoo since 1995. The two bears have been cared for by the Wildlife Conservation Society as they cannot return to the wild. The two she-bears have been temporarily relocated to the Central Park Zoo to take the place of a now-deceased polar bear named Gus. Eventually, they will return home to the Bronx Zoo once a trio of orphaned grizzlies are socialized to take their place.

Here is the fun part. Betty and Veronica the bears have met Betty and Veronica from Riverdale! They also met Archie and Jughead -- way back in ARCHIE #550!

I got curious about this story and ended up purchasing a digital copy of the comic book and was treated to a great story. The Lodge family were camping at Yellowstone Park and decided for some unknown reason to bring along Archie, Jughead, and Betty. Early into their stay, the group lost a backpack of food to a scavenging grizzly bear. A ranger informed them that grizzly bears are only allowed three incidents. After that, they have to be destroyed.

Betty freaked out and reconnected with some people that she knew from the Bronx Zoo and the Wildlife Conservation Society. She and her friends learned about the Animal Enrichment Program, which takes in bears who would've otherwise been doomed because of "three strikes" programs out in the wild.

Betty and the rest learned how the Wildlife Conservation Society cares for, stimulates, and entertains their bears. Not only that, but they also revealed that four of their recently acquired bears were named after Betty, Veronica, Archie, and Jughead -- largely due to Betty's commitment for the program!

It was a pretty good story. It offered safety tips for people who find themselves camping in "bear country." But it also provided a good balance between entertainment and education -- which isn't always easy to do! Plus, I'm always a sucker for instances where reality and comic books intersect!

"Bear In Mind" was written by George Gladir, penciled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Bob Smith, and lettered by Vickie Williams. It's a 10-year-old comic book and probably not terribly easy to find if you don't read digital comic books, but it's definitely worth to search if you get the chance!


Anonymous said...

It's a $1.80 on but I might just get the digital version. What a cool story! I had read about the real bears at the Central Park Zoo but I had no idea that Archie Comics had covered them when they were at the Bronx Zoo. I love it.

Jon said...

This particular story was a lot of fun -- plus the "Archie #550" has a couple other short stories in that issue as well. Well worth the money! :)