The California Living Museum, better known as CALM, displays new animals each year. This year some of the new animals include three bighorn sheep, which are characterized as “beautiful and majestic animals with strong historical ties to Kern County,” according to the Zoological Association of America. CALM offers a zoo-like experience for Bakersfield and surrounding communities by displaying the flora and fauna that are exclusively native to Kern County.
The main purpose of this local museum is to educate visitors about the variety of animals and plants that may be endangered or are simply unknown to the community.
On behalf of the museum, general manager Lana Fain said, “The main purpose of the zoo is to teach people about wildlife in California as well as in general, and most importantly to raise awareness of how important it is to have respect for nature, for the wildlife.”
CALM was organized during the 1970s by a group of local individuals who were interested in protecting the native wildlife. In 1983, their efforts paid off, as the zoo opened its doors to the public. Now it is home to more than 80 species that are at high risk of extinction. Furthermore, it provides natural exhibits throughout each year.
“All of our animals are native to California. We have an open black bear exhibit, which is the only black bear living in California,” Fain said. “We also have mountain lions and bobcats exhibits, which is one of the most popular features in the zoo. I think those features make us really unique.”
Every year around 110,000 people visit the Bakersfield zoo.
“We have more people coming each year. We are not satisfied with the numbers, but we are definitely growing,” Fain said.
Every year, more than 13,000 Kern County school children participate in on-site programs that educate them about the importance of the wildlife in California.
According to Kimberly Cooper Swerdfeger, a kindergarten supervisor at the Bakersfield Homeless Center, “CALM is a fantastic place for an experience with nature. We are actually planning on taking children from our school to visit there this spring.”
“Calm has a variety of birds. My favorite feature in the zoo is watching the birds spread their wings up high. I am very excited about taking the kids to the zoo this spring. I am sure they will enjoy the tour,” Swerdfeger said.
Another important feature of the Bakersfield zoo is the display of plants that come from Kern County environments including the mountains and the Mojave Desert. Visitors can walk through specific routes in the zoo, appreciating the “Trees of California” that are found in the western and eastern mountains. Visitors can also enjoy the view of a riparian habitat, which is a small replica of the Kern River. They can also contemplate a desert community, which resembles the eastern desert.
CALM is open every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on certain holidays. Its admission prices vary. Adults pay $9, while seniors pay $7. In addition, children from ages 3 to 12 pay only $5, and children under 3 have free admission. Annual individual and family memberships are also available. An individual membership is $30. For further information on recent events coming up, you are welcome to visit http://kcsos.kern.org/news/newsItems/viewDepartment$CALM.