There's a new bear in town to covet, cuddle and cherish--a water bear or tardigrade.
The plush stuffed animals are hot items in the gift shop of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The stuffed animals come in three several sizes, from teddy-bear to keychain-size, said Bohart director Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology.
And in the near future, Kimsey hopes to install a water bear sculpture at the entrance to the museum. In fact, the Bohart Museum Society has set up a Go Fund Me account to help fund the project: see https://www.gofundme.com/f/waterbear-sculpture.
Why tardigrades? UC Davis boasts one of the world's largest tardigrade collections. "The water bear has to be one of the most peculiar and indestructible groups of animals known," Kimsey wrote in a recent newsletter. "The microscopic and nearly indestructible tardigrade can survive being heated to 304 degrees Fahrenheit or being chilled for days at -328 F. And, even if it's frozen for 30 years, it can still reproduce." (See video on EurekAlert.)
Meanwhile, Bohart Museum officials are gearing up for the holiday season by stocking their year-around gift shop with scores of insect-themed items, ranging from stuffed animals, insect-themed books, children's books, and jewelry, to t-shirts, sweatshirts, pens, coffee cups, patches, lollipops, and insect-collecting equipment. All proceeds benefit the educational and public service mission of the Bohart Museum.
New items include green metallic beetle earrings that UC Davis-trained entomologist Fran Keller, an associate professor at Folsom Lake College, brought back from the recent Entomological Society of America meeting in St. Louis, Mo. Handmade pens by entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of the Lepidoptera section, are another popular item.
Those are just a few of the stocking stuffers available.
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of insect biodiversity. In addition to the gift shop, the Bohart maintains a live "petting zoo," featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks or stick insects and tarantulas.
The insect museum is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., except on holidays. Visiting hours will end at 5 p.m., Dec. 16 and will resume at 9 a.m. on Jan. 6. The Bohart will be closed to the public from Dec. 17 to Jan. 5. More information on the Bohart Museum is available on the website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu or by contacting (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author - Communications specialist
Entomologist Eliza Litsey, who received her bachelor's degree in entomology this year from UC Davis, shows some of the water bears (tardigrades) available in the Bohart Museum of Entomology gift shop. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Here's looking at you. Water bears in the Bohart Museum of Entomology are soft and cuddly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Insect-themed t-shirts are popular in the Bohart Museum of Entomology gift shop, especially during the holiday season. This is entomologist Eliza Litsey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon checks out the insect-themed shirts at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jeff Smith (back), who curates the Lepidoptera section at the Bohart Museum, handmade these pens, available in the gift shop. With him is Robert Michael Pyle of Grays River, Wash., founder of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Children's insect-themed books are great gifts for budding entomologists. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Butterflies, dragonflies and lady beetles (lady bugs) adorn the t-shirts at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)