1.) It's hot. Most everywhere in America was scorching this past weekend. Even in Duluth, where above-80 temperatures combined with high humidity. These conditions are especially difficult to weather, so to speak, for Duluth, where man and beast alike have developed thick skin and a furry outer layer to protect them from icy winds off Lake Superior.
2.) Water has a cooling effect on the beast's temperature. The Humane Society advises that dog owners wrap their pets in a cooling body wrap or vest soaked in water to help pups recover from summer swelter. Dogs that don't hate taking a bath can also "enjoy a cooling soak." This fat Duluth bear probably doesn't read the Humane Society website, but knows the kiddie pool's value inherently.
3.) Even in repose, the adult bear is an instinctually alarming sight. Dave Zbaracki, who shot the above photo of the fat Duluth bear taking a dip in his kiddie pool, at first thought he might be looking at his 125-pound black Newfoundland dog. "I did a double-take," Zbaracki says. "Then I was like, 'Holy crap.'"
Zbaracki's wife was walking their two kids, one five years old, the other just two, out the door for a family outing. Zbaracki called for her to hustle them into the truck and close the door.
4.) Upon further inspection, a lazy bear is a humorous sight. Zbaracki and his wife gawked at the big ol' bear's preposterous visage, barely fitting into the little pool. They took a few pictures and "got a good laugh." They'd needed that. The Zbaracki home, like others in Duluth, had been without power for five days after recent storms up there. The power only came back on earlier Sunday. "I had thought that would be the highlight of my day," he says. "That was before the bear in the kiddie pool."
5.) Reputation matters. This here bear is sort of a known figure in the Congdon neighborhood area of Duluth, and folks generally have warm feelings about him. "From what I've heard, I don't think he's really hurting anybody," Zbaracki says. "He's never bothered anyone more than maybe knocking over a garbage can." This easy diet of people food is probably why he's so hefty; people who know better than Zbaracki, hunters, have told him this is a "pretty good-sized specimen," maybe in excess of 300 pounds.
6.) That thing about "no getting in the pool until a half-hour after eating"? Yeah. Fat Duluth bear don't give a fuck about your pool rules. This fella had just eaten a neighbor's garbage. Then he thought he'd go for a swim. Then? Better idea: Just get in the water to cool off a bit, make it look like he's swimmin', when actually he's sort of just floatin'.
7.) Duluth gonna Duluth. "I mean, I know bears are supposed to be in the woods," Zbaracki says. But this kind of thing is not uncommon in the port city. There's so much wilderness nearby, and so much greenspace in town, animals might not be able to tell the difference. A couple weeks ago he was riding his bike when another rider stopped him, and pointed out two deer bucks, about to charge each other. Zbaracki watched them lock antlers for a minute before riding on. "I'd never seen that before, but I thought, 'Well, OK, that's Duluth.'"
He admits he's a little concerned about his dog, which is sometimes kenneled up behind the house. And they've got cats around. But so long as all this neighborhood beast does is hang out and amuse people, give them something to talk about besides the weather, Zbaracki hopes he goes right on being the fat Duluth bear.