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KCBX News Update: UCSB professor to present on grizzly bears in Morro Bay, and SLO County urges vaccination amid news of omicron variant

 The California grizzly bear exhibit at the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History.
California State Parks
The California grizzly bear exhibit at the Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History.

SLO County Public Health urges vaccination, testing amid news of omicron variant

San Luis Obispo County Public Health is urging vaccination and testing as news of the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads.

A county statement to KCBX News advised residents to “get vaccinated, wear a mask, get tested and stay home if you're sick.”

There are free community testing sites in Grover Beach, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay.

More information about vaccines is available at

UCSB professor to present on the past, present and future of the grizzly bear in Morro Bay 

The Morro Bay State Park Museum of Natural History will host a presentation on the California grizzly bear tomorrow from a UCSB professor who is an expert on the now-extinct bear species.

Peter Alagona, Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies at UCSB, will present on the past, present and future of grizzly bears in California at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Amy Hart is a historian with California State Parks. She said the museum’s exhibit chronicles the history of the species, which went extinct in the 20th century.

“It really touches upon the myth of the California grizzly in our history as the idea of the wild American West needing taming in the 19th century, it was used on many advertisements and booster campaigns about the wildness of the West, and it also kind of is something we've been afraid of but also fascinated by in California history,” Hart said.

Hart said this exhibit and presentation show the importance that the California grizzly bear species has to Californians even after its extinction.

“I think the California grizzly holds a lot of qualities that we hold dear, this idea of independence and resourcefulness and intelligence, and so in many ways this grizzly has come to represent the state of California. But this exhibit touches upon ways that we can also learn to coexist with the existing black bears that still live in California and kind of learn to live better with the animals that lived here before us,” Hart said.

The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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