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Fate of Capitol bear up in the air

January 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Political pundits will long debate the legacy of now-former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also up for debate: what to do with the ex-governor's 800-pound bronze bear.The 800-pound bronze statue of a grizzly bear outside the governor's office has become a celebrity itself.

In fact, the $20,000 piece of art has become part of the Capitol tour since its arrival in Spring 2009, after then Governor Schwarzenegger spotted it at an Aspen art gallery.

Lots of people have their picture taken with it, pet it, even hug it.

"For the little kids, it's scary. But for the bigger kids, it's really cool to us," said Capitol visitor Sara Brink.

It's so popular, CHP dubbed it "Bacteria Bear" and hand sanitizer was quickly put out nearby for the public.

Capitol reporters called the bear "Mic" because it was convenient place to put microphones when waiting for Schwarzenegger to come out and talk.

Now that Schwarzenegger has left office, the fate of the bear is in limbo.

Governor Jerry Brown hasn't decided what to do, but he does like what it stands for.

"I do like the symbol of the flag because it's on our flag and it projects the strength and determination and ferocity of what will be required in the months going forward," said Brown.

"I think they should keep it here because it's become part of what the Capitol is," said Karina Escoveda, a tourist at the Capitol.

"I think it excites Californians. I think it's wonderful for children. I think the bear belongs here," said Rita Sudman.

But if the new governor doesn't want it, the local SPCA has offered to adopt it. It already has a spot for the bear.

"The community will still have a chance to visit with it and more importantly, while it's here they would have a chance to see other animals that they may be able to adopt and take home," said Rick Johnson, executive director of the Sacramento SPCA.

Moving it will be a bear ... maybe that's why Schwarzenegger left it behind.

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