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Published: Thursday, 11/22/2007

Bowsher sophomore bears a big interest in writing, zoo

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Scott McGorty of Bowsher High School is on the job as a volunteer at the Toledo Zoo. Scott McGorty of Bowsher High School is on the job as a volunteer at the Toledo Zoo.
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Scott McGorty has been a polar bear fan for a long time, and in a big way.

Now the 16-year-old Bowsher High School sophomore and Toledo Zoo volunteer has turned his love of the aquatic animal into a personal accomplishment: an international newsletter has published his article about three polar bear cubs' births at the zoo.

"He's so articulate. His article was so well written," explained Barbara Nielsen, editor of Polar Bears International, the quarterly publication that has Scott's article in its fall issue.

"He seems to delight in polar bears."

Polar Bears International is published by an organization of the same name that is dedicated to researching polar bears and educating the public about them, Ms. Nielsen said.

In his article, Scott describes how the three cubs were born in Arctic Encounter, one of the zoo's newest exhibits, to two different mother bears.

"The trio reminds me of the 1970s comedy Three's Company, because it consists of a boy and two girls," Scott wrote.

"The two families don't live together, though, because that would cause the mothers to feel territorial. The male cub is named Nikita. His mother is Nan. The female cubs are named Aurora and Anana, and their mother is Crystal."

Scott said he's been writing since the third grade, when he penned a two-page short story called "W.C. Chipmunks."

He's in honors English at Bowsher, and doesn't hesitate to write letters to newspapers, including The Blade, which published one in July. In it, Scott opined that an auto parts yard proposed for South Toledo would be an eyesore to zoo tourists and neighbors. "Is that the image that we want to paint for Toledo? I hope not," he wrote.

Larry Black, Bowsher's principal, knows Scott well. "He's an active kid. He's a busy kid. He's involved. He works hard. He's a nice guy," he said.

Scott said he volunteered more than 1,000 hours at the zoo last year. He took a strong interest in the birth of the cubs.

Ms. Nielsen said she was struck by the detail in his writing. "He's keenly interested in bears, you can tell. When he wrote about the bears learning to swim, I was very impressed," she said.

Describing one of the cubs' swimming lessons, Scott wrote: "Nikita's mother, Nan, had a very cautious way of teaching her single cub to swim. She started by walking with him around the edge of the small pool located behind the scenes of the exhibit. For quite a while, she would pull him back from the edge with her mouth or a paw. Finally, she allowed him to enter the pool by the steps."

Scott said he enjoys the educational aspects of volunteering at the zoo.

"Sometimes I take out live animals such as chinchillas or ferrets or different kinds of birds for demonstrations," he explained.

"All of these animals are technically wild animals. You can never take the wild out of an animal. But it's rewarding. How many kids have touched a hermit crab?"

Liz Hartman, volunteer program assistant at the zoo, said: "Scott has been a pleasure to work with the last two years. He's really found a niche in public education, and we enjoy having him out there."

Scott said he will not pursue writing or biology in college - he plans to study acting and marketing instead.

"They're not exactly related, but I've always thought if acting blows up in my face I'll always have something to fall back on," he explained.

A member of the Bowsher Upstage Players, Scott was in its recent presentation of three one-act plays.

He said he studies recordings of old Lucille Ball shows to improve his comedic acting.

He emphasized that his love of polar bears will not fade away soon. He plans to continue his volunteering at the zoo.

"He's just the kind of kid who gives you hope for the world," Ms. Nielsen said.

Contact Carl Ryan at carlryan@theblade.com,

or 419-206-0356.



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