Horizon Air workers want the bear back.
“Definitely, all the Horizon folks are behind it,” said employee Mike Sanders. “I haven’t talked to one who said, ‘don’t.”’
They’re not alone.
Asked to suggest a new home for a stuffed polar bear now at Walk in the Wild zoo, an overwhelming majority of the people who called The Spokesman-Review agreed with Sanders.
OK, there were only 14 callers. But eight of them asked - no, demanded - that the Spokane landmark be returned to the spot it occupied for eight years.
“Why on Earth did they move the polar bear from the airport in the first place?” asked Ann Donaldson of Lind, Wash.
Because it was taking up too much room and sparked complaints from animal-rights activists, said Airport Manager John Morrison.
As far as Morrison could recall, no one complained when the bear was taken out of the airport in 1993.
The mood has changed.
“There is a grizzly bear in the Missoula (Mont.) airport and it’s wonderful,” said one caller who didn’t leave his name.
True, Montana is home to live grizzlies. And they are the mascot for the University of Montana.
But polar bears certainly have significance for Washington, Gateway to the Arctic.
At least this particular bear does. It was shot on the Bering Sea by Spokane hunter Lewey Lorenzen in 1971.
Lorenzen displayed it at the Davenport Hotel until 1985, when the hotel closed.
Now, the zoo is closing and Lorenzen must find a new home. He’d prefer to keep it in Spokane, in a place where it will be seen by a lot of folks.
If Sanders and his colleagues want the bear, they’ll need permission from the Spokane County Airport Board, said Morrison.
But first they’ll have to convince the big-wigs at the Seattle headquarters for Alaska Air Group, Horizon’s corporate parent. So far, the decision-makers are playing dumb.
“Huh?” responded a corporate official when asked whether Horizon hoped to snag the bear.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: BEAR FACTS Guardianship of Lewey Lorenzen’s stuffed polar bear carries plenty of responsibility. The keeper of the bear must: Pay to move it ($1,000). Have it cleaned by a taxidermist every five years ($300). Insure it for $12,000. (Ask for Safeco’s predator rider). It’s a bargain, considering casinos and restaurants - which buy up most of the polar bears on the market - typically pay $18,000 to $20,000.