Bear Named Trouble

Finding the Story

One morning I was reading the newspaper, and there it was, a small—probably two inches—article about an adolescent bear named Trouble. He'd been caught breaking into the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. And I thought, How wonderful! A wild bear who wants to live in a zoo! The article said that, after finally being captured during one of his break ins—and being given the name Trouble—the bear had been sent to the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota. I live in Minnesota, so that gave me an instant connection to the story.

The first thing I did was to drive to Duluth to meet the man in charge of the Lake Superior Zoo and the keepers in charge of taking care of Trouble and, of course, Trouble. Next I flew to Anchorage to talk to the zoo personnel there who had been involved in Trouble's capture. I found that the real story of the bear's capture was more dramatic than I would have felt free to imagine. The article told how Trouble had killed a white goose, a favorite of the children, during one of his early forays into the zoo. But it hadn't said that, while the zoo personnel were trying to dart the bear with a tranquilizer, the Fish and Game people were waiting outside to kill him as a nuisance bear if he emerged from the zoo! After learning that part of the story and spending a lot of time walking around and feeling the Alaska Zoo where much of my story would be set, I came home and read about bears, lots and lots about bears. Once I knew what Trouble's early life would have been like and could imagine what must have happened to him to bring him into the zoo, I did the last thing. I sat down to write the story.

I had to create Jonathan. No child was involved in the real Trouble's capture. But the boy who likes to imagine himself into animals wasn't difficult to find. He seemed to be waiting there in my imagination for me . . . and, of course, for Trouble!


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