I take back my anger towards the mother


Okay, I’m a softy for kids.  This article made me tear up.

I’ll take back my angriness at the mother, but not at the decision to kill the bears.

As someone with a background in professional child care, I certainly understand the statement that the mother turned her head for a few seconds.  A four-year-old can certainly scale a four foot fence in a matter of an instant.


Notice the timeline on the right side of the article.


After bear bite, boy said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’



Feb 28, 2006

<IMG height=250 alt="The boy bitten by a Maymont Park bear expressed his regret with a note and drawing. (His name is hidden to protect his identity.)
JOE MAHONEY/TIMES-DISPATCH” src=”http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?blobcol=urlmainpicture&blobheader=image/jpeg&blobkey=id&blobtable=MGImage&blobwhere=1137834400620&ssbinary=true&#8221; width=164 border=1>
The boy bitten by a Maymont Park bear expressed his regret with a note and drawing. (His name is hidden to protect his identity.)


The mother of a boy bitten by a bear at Maymont said yesterday that she assured health officials that she was willing for her child to undergo rabies shots.

“I didn’t want anything to happen to the bears. That was first and foremost,” said Julia, a 30-year-old single mother of the 4-year-old. “We had decided to go ahead and do the rabies treatment.”

But when she called city health officials on Thursday to tell them of her decision, they informed her that the two male black bears, ages 9 and 12, had been killed an hour or two before.



CLICK HERE to share your memories of the Maymont Bears in our READER FORUM


Photos from Readers





Mark Holmberg column:
Mother hopes her talking aids mourning for bears

After bite, boy said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry’

Wilder wants to exhume bears for more appropriate memorial

Mark Holmberg column:
Why do bears’ deaths elicit more sorrow than humans’?

Vigil: Park’s bears

Human treatment called safe

Rabies infections rare in bears

McAllister’s View

Park’s 2 bears killed after bite

Maymont bears do not have rabies


To contribute:  Donations may be made at the Maymont Nature Center, online at www.maymont.org or by sending a check to the Maymont Foundation, 1700 Hampton St., Richmond, VA 23220

Details: (804)358-7166

“When they told me, I cried,” Julia said. “I was devastated.”

While local officials maintain that euthanization was the only option, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta confirmed yesterday that it offered two — euthanize the bears or treat the child for rabies. City health officials did not return phone calls yesterday to discuss the second option.

Julia, who agreed to an interview with The Times-Dispatch on the condition that only her first name be used, denied that she helped her son feed the bears when the two visited the park on Feb. 18. They were sharing an apple while walking behind the 2-acre bear habitat about 3 p.m., she said, when she turned her head for a few seconds.

When she turned back around, her son had cleared the habitat’s preliminary barrier, a 4-foot wooden slat fence, and was standing outside the 10-foot chain-link fence, she said. One of the bears was sitting just on the other side.

“The bear was sitting there quiet and calm,” Julia said. “The bear was not acting aggressive in any way.”

Before Julia could reach her child, she said, he had put his right hand through the fence and was bitten.

“He was reaching in to pet the bear,” said Julia, who visits Maymont with her son weekly. “I jumped over the fence and grabbed him as he was pulling his hand out. He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.'”

His hand was bleeding, Julia said, so she took off one of her two shirts and used it as a bandage. She carried him to her truck and drove him immediately to St. Mary’s Hospital.

Doctors there cleaned out the single puncture wound and treated it with antibiotics. She said she doesn’t remember anyone there mentioning treating him for rabies.

“I’m sure they did, but I don’t recall,” she said. “I was worried about what was going on with my son.”

When she got home about 8 p.m., she noticed a message on her cell phone from the city health department. She called back but did not reach anyone.

Monday was the Presidents Day holiday. She and health officials didn’t talk until Tuesday, and the first time the rabies treatment process was explained to her was on Wednesday, she said.

Officials also told her that in order to test the bears for the disease, they would have to be euthanized. There is no rabies test that can be administered to live animals.

On Thursday, officials from Maymont, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries met to determine the fate of the bears. Julia said she called the city health department that day to tell them she wanted her son to undergo the rabies treatment.



3:30 p.m.: A 4-year-old boy is bitten by one of Maymont’s black bears. 3:30-4 p.m.: His mother arrives at St. Mary’s Hospital with her son, who is treated for single puncture wound. 8 p.m. The mother arrives home and hears a message from the city’s health department but does not receive an answer when she returns the call.

MONDAY, FEB. 20: Presidents Day holiday.

TUESDAY, FEB. 21: The city health department makes contact with the mother, confirms the incident and contacts the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. 4:30 p.m. Maymont is notified of the incident.

WEDNESDAY:   The city health department contacts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which offers two options — euthanize the bears or administer rabies shots to child. City health officials discuss the rabies-prevention process with the mother, she says.

THURSDAY: 9 a.m.: Fourteen people from Maymont, Game and Inland Fisheries and the health department meet for nearly three hours. Noon: The bears are euthanized. 1 or 2 p.m.: The mother says she calls the city health department to tell them she wants her son to get rabies shots.

FRIDAY: 10 a.m. Test results show the bears did not have rabies.

“I called around lunchtime,” she said. “They told me the bears had already been euthanized.”

Euthanizing the bears was the only definitive way to know if the child was exposed to rabies, said Julia Dixon, spokeswoman for Game and Inland Fisheries.

“It was not the mother’s call,” Dixon said yesterday. “The professionals around the room consulted together. It was our call. We had to go with what was best for the child.”

Julia, a trainer at an area collection service, hasn’t been watching or reading the local news reports about the bears. But she is aware that many people are demanding justice. The Times-Dispatch has received hundreds of calls and e-mails from readers.

“I’m aware of the outcry,” she said. “It’s normal. It’s what people should do for anything they are passionate about.”

But she draws the line at people calling her an unfit mother. When she heard last week that Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder called for an investigation into the incident and into whether she was negligent, she hired an attorney.

“This was an accident,” said Michael Morchower, Julia’s lawyer. “Everyone has to live with it and accept it and not point fingers. If this is negligence on her part, then 80 percent of mothers and fathers in Richmond better take notice.”

Julia, who grew up in Richmond, has visited Maymont since she was a child. People who think she has any intention of suing the park are wrong, she said. She places no blame on Maymont for her son’s minor injury and doesn’t think the nonprofit organization should change its fencing strategy.

“Maymont needs what’s been working for 25 years,” she said. “And that’s exactly what it has now. I don’t see this as Maymont’s fault or my fault. It was an accident.”

She plans to continue her visits to Maymont with her son, an only child, and looks forward to the day the park has more bears. The child knows the two they visited 10 days ago are now dead.


“He’s devastated,” Julia said. “But he had a right to know.”

He understands he should not have climbed the fence, she said, and has made an “I am sorry” card for the bears. Drawn in crayon, it sits on a bookshelf in his bedroom.

“We are brokenhearted,” Julia said. “My feelings are no different than what other people are going through. We are all mourning. We all want the bears back.”

Contact staff writer Janet Caggiano at jcaggiano@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6157.


If you go to the Times-Dispatch website, you can read the 76+ pages of responses.


Park’s 2 bears killed after bite

Boy, 4, scaled fence at park; Officials cite public-health risk


Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

Feb 23, 2006

Should the bears be replaced? If so, in what kind of enclosure?

Click on the question above to be linked to the responses.

Black bear at Maymont
Two blacks bears at Maymont Park were euthanized after one of the animals bit a child last weekend. (Sammye Newman)

RELATED: Maymont bear tests negative

Maymont employees are mourning the death of the park’s two black bears, destroyed yesterday after one of them bit a 4-year-old boy last weekend.

The animals were sedated and given a lethal injection around midday after Maymont officials met behind closed doors for nearly three hours with representatives from the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

“It’s devastating,” said a teary Susan Allmond, senior zoologist who has cared for the bears for six years. “Part of our family is gone. I’m never going to get over it. They’ve been ripped from us.”


Both bears, ages 12 and 9, were euthanized because it was not known which one bit the boy, Maymont officials said. The child and at least one parent were apparently at the rear of the 2-acre bear exhibit Saturday when the child climbed a 4-foot wooden fence into a restricted area and approached the 10-foot chain-link fence that surrounds the bears.

“The child may have been eating an apple or had apple [scent] on his hands,” said Julia Dixon, spokeswoman for Game and Inland Fisheries. The child put his hand through the fence and was bitten.

Hours later, the child was treated and released from Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, where doctors administered antibiotics. No stitches were required. The hospital reported the incident to the city health department, which notified the Virginia Department of Health and then Game and Inland Fisheries. Maymont was not notified until Tuesday.

“I’m not mad at the child, but I’m frustrated that it happened,” said Mark Rich, director of the Maymont Nature Center. “It could have been avoided.”

There is no rabies vaccine for bears and no rabies test that can be administered to a live animal. Brain tissue from both bears will be tested at the state lab. Should either come back positive, the city health department will notify the child’s parents and the child will undergo a series of six shots over 28 days. Without treatment, rabies is almost always fatal. In 2003, a 25-year-old Virginia man died from raccoon-related rabies, the last reported death in the state.

“Bears are low-risk for rabies, but the bottom line is it’s not no-risk,” said Bob Duncan, director of the wildlife division for Game and Inland Fisheries. Euthanizing the bears, he said, “is the necessary thing.”

Yesterday’s meeting examined alternatives, officials said. When a decision was reached, groups of employees cried as they consoled one another. State officials, too, shed a few tears.

“Our first reaction was, ‘It’s not the bear’s fault! Why should we even consider this?'” Dixon said. “But the answer is we don’t have a choice. It doesn’t matter if people are irresponsible . . . it’s a public-health decision.”

Maymont officials considered quarantining the bears, but since the incubation period for rabies is uncertain in bears, Rich said, that was not a viable option.

“It could be 45 days before the animal showed signs,” he said. “By then it would have been too late. When in doubt, you have to go with human health.”

Another option would have been to administer the rabies treatment to the child.

“Whether the child received treatment or not, we felt from a public-health standpoint we had to know whether either bear had rabies,” said Shannon Nicole Marshall, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health. “Our ultimate responsibility is to protect public health.”

That doesn’t make the decision any easier, Allmond said.

“Because of my connection to the bears, I obviously didn’t like it,” she said. “But there is nothing I could have done to prevent it. That is what is so hard. These bears knew us, and they were happy here.”

Both bears were moved to Maymont by Game and Inland Fisheries, the state department that licenses facilities to exhibit wildlife.

// Click to learn more...

The younger bear came to Maymont from Goochland County in 1999 as a 2-year-old, Allmond said, and had been classified as a “nuisance” bear.

The older bear was orphaned and given to the park as a cub in 1994. When it was introduced to the public in early 1995, Maymont celebrated with Bear Family Day, and children brought their favorite stuffed bears for a Victorian Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Parade.

This is the first incident involving an animal bite at Maymont since bears were introduced 25 year ago. The park, which annually draws about 500,000 visitors, has about 700 animals, 80 of which are mammals. Officials said there are no plans at this time to add or change fencing.

“No matter how many fences you put up, you are always at risk that someone will circumvent them,” Rich said. “People need to remember these are wild animals here at Maymont. They need to be respected.”

Virginia is home to about 6,000 black bears. Most reside in the western part of the state. In the wild, black bears live five to seven years, but in captivity up to 25 years.

“This wasn’t their time,” Allmond said. “It’s such a shock to all of us. These were everybody’s bears. Everyone is going to miss them.”

Contact staff writer Janet Caggiano at jcaggiano@timesdispatch.com or (804) 649-6157.


Maymont bears test negative

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Feb 24, 2006

Maymont’s two black bears did not have rabies, tests results showed this morning.

Maymont bear tests negative

Maymont’s 2 bears killed after bite
Give us your reaction!

Shannon Marshall, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health, said tests for both bears came back negative.

The bears were killed yesterday so that brain tissue could be tested for rabies after one of them bit a 4-year-old boy last weekend. Both bears, ages 12 and 9, were euthanized because it was not known which one bit the boy, Maymont officials said. The child and at least one parent were apparently at the rear of the 2-acre bear exhibit Saturday when the child climbed a 4-foot wooden fence into a restricted area and approached the 10-foot chain-link fence that surrounds the bears. The bite was not serious, but it did break the boy’s skin.

I just got this from www.inxs.com:

22.02.06 Review: Norfolk – Chrysler Hall

A day off in Washington DC gave the INXS camp an opportunity to revive itself ahead of the push south and into Virginia and beyond. First stop would be Norfolk’s Chrysler Hall. CrazyforINXS reports:

Norfolk was fantassssstic! After having front row seats in DC, I was disappointed that I had to settle for sixth row in Norfolk, but it did give me a different perspective and I was able to see all the guys better back a ways. This show was really loud and the sound just vibrated through you the whole show. The stage was big enough to have the complete stage setup so that was great for me since the stage in DC was too small to hold the ramps and the lights on the curtain. When INXS can have the full stage setup it is just phenomenal. The guys were totally on. They sounded wonderful. JD’s voice was perfect again and the crowd was really into the show from the opening harmonica of ‘Suicide Blonde’ to the last guitar lick on ‘Don’t Change’. After the onstage events in DC for ‘Don’t Change’ I was glad that I got to see the “normal” ‘Don’t Change’ as it is my first and absolute all time favorite INXS song. The set was the same as most shows, with ‘Kick’ added back in (yeah!), but I still miss ‘The Stairs’. Jon looked to be feeling better and we got his Whooo! for ‘Pretty Vegas’. I was a little surprised at the number of men in the audience that were totally rocking out to the music. It was an all ages crowd as well, which is nice to see. All the guys seemed to be having a great time and it is so wonderful to see them show affection for each other and their playful sides on stage. I am loving INXS: Complete.

Right before ‘Mystify’ was to begin, JD spotted a girl in the audience with a Virginia license plate that said “Mystifi” and asked to see it. She climbed over some seats to get it close enough that he could reach it. JD showed it to the rest of the guys and let it rest on the drum riser during the song. Then it was returned to that lucky girl and she had a concert memory to last forever. Standouts as far as crowd reaction were ‘Suicide Blonde’, ‘Original Sin’, ‘Never Let You Go’, ‘What You Need’, ‘Devil Inside’, ‘New Sensation’ and ‘Don’t Change’. The ballads were also astonishing. ‘Taste It’ was well very tasty as everyone knows. The woman beside me did not know anything about it and when I told her she could not believe it. Well, she saw it for herself and just kept grabbing my arm and saying “Oh my God” during the songs solos. I have the bruises to prove it!

A standout for me was getting a T-shirt with “Virginia is for Lovers” on it onto the stage thanks to some new pals on the front row. JD picked it up, looked at it and put it in his back pocket for all of ‘New Sensation’. I wanted him to have the shirt since this is his first concert in Virginia and to thank all the guys for the two awesome concerts in DC and Norfolk. It is an experience I will never forget. If you have not seen an INXS concert yet, run, don’t walk to your nearest computer and get you some tickets. You will never be the same again.

I was still on such a high on the way home the next day, that while listening to Switch and rocking out driving down the interstate, I got pulled over for my very first speeding ticket! Oh well, an INXS concert is worth it anyday.

Hey People!

We went to the INXS concert last night!  Whoo Hoo!!

Yes, Ladies, J.D. Fortune is HOT, HOT, HOT!!!  But I have to say that as a matter of personal opinion Kirk Pengilly is by far my favorite man on the stage.  The way he plays that saxophone (tenor and alto)…hmm…  Andrew Farriss is by far one of the most talented musicians to walk a stage playing harmonica, keyboards (out of this world) and guitar.  Tim Farriss (lead guitar) is incredible.  Jon Farriss plays drums in way that you can’t stop moving.  And Garry Beers on bass is absolutely mind-blowing.  I could feel the beat running through me the entire concert – but it was never overwhelming.

This may be one of the best shows I’ve been to.  J.D. played to the audience – both directly in front of him and up in the highest balcony – in a way that made you feel like he wanted to be your man.  I know the guys enjoyed the show, but everyone of those band members had women of all ages screaming their heads off.  One girl in front of Jeff and me (not 21 yet – didn’t have the wrist band on like her friends) actually removed her bra and swung in around until she had the bands attention.  Garry was encouraging her to throw it on up there.  Of course, she did the bra-on flash during opening act, Marty Casey and the Lovehammers.

About Marty Casey (runner-up on Rock Star: INXS) and his band.  Very hard, very grunge, but pretty good.  I didn’t become a fan during the process of the show and I wasn’t made one last night.  In my opinion, he’s just weird.  He gyrated in a way that didn’t turn a girl on – it just felt as though he was performing his own interpretive dance.  But, being on tour with INXS is the place to be when you’re trying to make it big.  As I mentioned above, the little girl in front of us flashed the stage during the LH set.  Why?  Because she wanted to be Dino‘s (bass guitar) girl – or so said her poster.  She wooed a security guard who allowed her to the stage after boob-in-bra flash.  I refer to it as such because during INXS, she actually removed the bra (as previously stated) and nearly gave us a non-bra-boob flash.  For some reason, modesty suddenly took over and she ended up returning the bra to it’s rightful place.

Now, I can’t say that I’ve never been tempted to take my bra off and throw it on stage.  Jeff and I even joked that I should’ve brought an extra one just to be able to do it.  My problem with it now – at 28 years old – is that I pay too much for my bras to be tossing them up on stage to some guy who winks at me in the moment, then throws my $50 VS bra in the trash.  NOT A CHANCE!

I took pictures, but I’m not sure how well they’ll turn out.  If any are good, I’ll temporarily replace my above engagement picture with a shot from the show.  We did have GREAT seats!  We were off to the side, but about 8-9 rows from the stage.  It was wonderful!!!

Will we go see them again if the tour the states in bigger arenas?  YES!

Will I beg Jeff to buy tickets really early and spend the big bucks so I can be close to Kirk Pengilly again?  YES!  (J.D. Fortune is just a bonus)

Would I suggest you to go even if you don’t know the music?  YES!  Because the show itself was incredible!!!

ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hey peoples!  How’s life?  This week has been rough so far.  I started my week off with a major migraine – PAINFUL!  I mean, I get what are medically classified as “migraines” all the time – I pop a B.C. Powder and go on about my day.  My doctors in high school were amazed that I could do that.  NOT THIS WEEK!  My migraine this week put me down and out, under the covers, and blocking out all light.  Two days – out for the count.  It sucked.

Today, I actually made it to class and work.  All day!  Yay for me!

So, last Thursday (Feb 9) I turned 28.  That is two years away from 30.  Hmm…  I continually feel incredibly old when sitting in class at VCU.  I often want to say to these kids, “What year were you born?”  Then I remember that most of you that read this are probably the same age (or pretty close).  Granted, some of these kids are my brother’s age, but some are SOO much younger!  No offense to any of you…I just feel my age on occasion.

I used to make fun of my mom because she was 31 when she had me.  That made her REALLY old compared to all of my friend’s parents.  Even my current friends who are older than I am have parents 10 years younger than mine.  Anyway, I always said that I was not going to be that old when I had my kids.  Well, here comes the eating of the words.  I’m 28.  I’m getting married in May.  We want kids, but will probably wait at least a year before we start purposely trying to create one.  That means I’ll be 30 before I have a kid – and that’s at the earliest.  Not that I’m upset by that.  I wouldn’t change a thing about my path in life to get where I am today.  I just find it a bit funny that I made such a big deal out of my mom’s age and here I sit happy that I’ll be about that age.  Granted, most people are waiting until later in their 20s and 30s (even their 40s if they are a celeb) to have their kids, so I’ll in no way be the “oldest mom in the band boosters”, but I’m going to eat my words big time.

I feel like this won’t be the only time I do this in life.

Speaking of the wedding – plans are really rolling along now.  I’m having a lot of fun picking songs and figuring out what we’ll serve for the reception.  We picked tuxes on Saturday and hopefully we’ll get registered this weekend (Lowe’s cards are always the perfect gift).  I’ve spent a small fortune on ebay buying wedding stuff – bridesmaids favors, ribbon, tulle, flowers, my toss bouquet ($7 including shipping).  I’m so, so, so excited and will post my flickr website after we’re all done and married & have our pictures posted.

Keep us in your prayers.  Weddings are fun to plan, but can be stressful.  We don’t tend to stress each other out about these things and I don’t really want to start now.

Hope you are all doing well…leave a comment will ya?

So, Wedding Plans are a-GO!

So, Jeff has officially given me the go-ahead on planning our wedding.  More than likely you are NOT invited.  Not trying to be rude – but we’re keeping it small.  Please don’t be offended.

I’ve ordered my dress & headthing (a tiara, though I refuse to call it that) and bought my shoes.  Five bridesmaids have selected their dresses & we’re going to the shop on Sunday to pick the sixth one’s out.  I went with Periwinkle Blue separates for my girls.  My MOH, Amanda, will be in a peri skirt that matches all the other girls, but her top is white chiffon with peri colored flowers.  Charlotte, my junior bridesmaid, is wearing a solid white satin spaghetti strap top with the matching peri skirt.

My other bridesmaids are Melissa Hess (my closest friend though we just got to know each other since this summer), Christie Grubbs (my co-Dean at Music & Drama whom I cannot live without), Rachel Ledbetter (marrying my brother this fall – is she crazy???), and Mariah Hubbs (Jeff’s friend from high school whom I adore).

Tuxes are on tap for this weekend as well as registering for gifts.  LOWES GIFT CARDS are preferred above all else as the house is really our main focus.  We will probably register for very little bath & kitchen stuff since we’re going to change all that dramatically in the next year or so.  Doesn’t make sense to get a lot of stuff that we may not need after we remodel.

The babies (Monkey, Hobbes, Maggie, Toby & Sam) are doing well.  Hobbes has given in and has started sleeping out in the living room with the rest of them during the day when we’re gone.  I came in to find him sleeping right next to Toby yesterday with Sam on the other side of Toby.

I got a new cell phone – one that takes pictures!  The number is the same, but I’m now a Verizon customer.  So long Cingular!  I loved SunCom, but Cingular is a beast of a company and I couldn’t stand them!

School is okay – could be better, could be worse.  I like my teachers and my classes and have friends in every one.  Well, not friends, but people I’m familiar with and feel comfortable being around.

I’m currently working on flower ideas for the wedding.  I forgot how much fun and yet how stressful all of this wedding stuff is.  My girls will be carrying white flowers and I haven’t decided what I want for me yet.

Hope life is well with you!