Bear News Beartown News
MARCH 1, 2007



In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a
young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully.  He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of

wood deeply embedded in it. As carefully and as gently as he could,
Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot. The elephant turned to face the man,
and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.
Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.
Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the
creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing. The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front

foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times and then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.  Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same
elephant. Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure.  He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.  The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.
Probably wasn't the same elephant.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. - New Mexico is hoping to keep drunks off the road by lecturing them at the last place they usually stop before getting behind the wheel: the urinal.
The state recently paid $21 each for about 500 talking urinal-deodorizer cakes and has put them in men's rooms in bars and restaurants across the state.
When a man steps up, the motion-sensitive plastic device says, in a woman's voice,
"Hey, big guy. Having a few drinks? Think you had one too many? Then it's time to call a cab or call a sober friend for a ride home."
The talking urinal represents just the latest effort to fight drunken driving in New Mexico, which has long had one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation. The new tactic is aimed only at men, since they account for 78 percent of all driving-under-the-influence-related convictions in New Mexico.
"It startled me the first time I heard it, but it sure got my attention," said Ben Miller, a patron at the Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. bar and restaurant. "It's a fantastic idea."
Jim Swatek, who was drinking a beer nearby, said:
"You think, Maybe I should call the wife to come get me."
Turtle Mountain Brewing owner Niko Ortiz commended the New Mexico Transportation Department for
"thinking way outside the box."




The urinal cakes have proved so intriguing at Turtle Mountain that three have been swiped already. Transportation Department spokesman S.U. Mahesh said the bathroom is a perfect place to get the message across. In the restroom, "guys don't chitchat with other guys," he said. "It's all business. We've got their total attention for 10 to 15 seconds." Similar urinal cakes have been used for anti-drug campaigns in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Australia, and for anti-DWI efforts on New York's Long Island, said Richard Deutsch of New York-based Healthquest Technologies, which manufactures the devices.
But Deutsch said he believes New Mexico is the only state to buy the devices.
New Mexico also has started a toll-free
"drunk buster" hot line, boosted DWI enforcement in problem areas and increased police checkpoints. The state also has a DWI czar.



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