3 Valley bears get new place to play, cool off - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

3 Valley bears get new place to play, cool off


Most husbands like to give their wives flowers or jewelry on their birthday.

But one Valley businessman wanted to do something different.

Mike Smith, owner of California Pools, built a swimming pool Wednesday for some Scottsdale bears.

"When you've been married almost 35 years, you pretty much give each other about everything you know to give," said Smith. "If you can come up with something new that excites your spouse, you do it."

Smith said that his wife Joan is an avid bear lover who would appreciate the creation of a new play area for some Arizona black bears.

Officials with the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale recently contacted Smith and inquired about the cost of building a swimming pool for some of their bears, who often struggle in the heat of the summer.

"It's like having three, 200 lb. toddlers on your hands," said Kim Carr with the SW Wildlife Center. "Imagine trying to entertain 4-year-old boys after you lock them in a bedroom and don't give them anything to play with. That's what we've got going on here."

Smith decided to build the bear pool as a birthday present for his wife

A construction team from California Pools started work on the bear pool around 6 a.m. Wednesday.

About 10 hours later, the pool was filled up with water, and the bears were allowed in for an afternoon swim.

Tahoe, Griz and Igasho wasted no time cooling off and jumping in.

"They look like kids out there," said Joan Smith. "It's truly amazing. I couldn't be happier."

All of the time and materials to build the bear pool were donated by California Pools and their suppliers.

Mike Smith estimates the cost at $6,000, but said the look on his wife's face was priceless.

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