Growing up in Vancouver, my Mom would take me to the zoo in, Stanley Park – one of the largest urban parks in the world. Of all the animals on display, the bear pit always fascinated me. You’d wait for the polar bears to jump into the pool with baited breath, but they’d always be down in the pit pacing nervously, or asleep, dirty with filth. The brown bears would be the same, disinterested in the goings on of the humans gawking, waiting for them to ‘perform’.
Designed, and installed by Underwood McKinley Cambron Architecture, in 1961, The bear pit closed down in 1997 and has been falling into decrepitude ever since. I have always been fascinated with the architecture of the bear pit – so, modern, like the bad guy’s lair in a James Bond film. How could this be what a bear would like?
The Bear Pit is now used as a demonstration salmon spawning facility – releasing animals into the wild instead of confining them. I gained access into the bear pit and tried to get a ‘bear’s eye view’, looking out on the green and trees from behind the concrete and chain-link fencing.