Boo Boo

Before she arrived at the Zoo, Boo Boo the sun bear was already a war veteran!
  • 1960s
  • 1970s

Talk about an overachiever! When 10-month-old Boo Boo the sun bear took up residence in the Children’s Zoo on December 29, 1965, she could already boast of being, at that time, the only female—not to mention bear—to serve on active duty with the Seabees (U.S. Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Ten). This adorably discharged war veteran even received a letter of commendation for her tireless dedication to bringing joy to her battalion.

After being parachuted as a three-month-old cub to the construction group during a routine aerial supply of the Battalion in Chu Lai, Vietnam, Boo Boo began her distinguished military career. She excelled at “running along the beach with the men, wrestling, eating popcorn, climbing trees, standing sentry duty, and getting into mischief.” When the Battalion returned to Port Hueneme, California, Boo Boo came with them.

Once stateside, Boo Boo’s brothers-in-arms wrote a letter to the San Diego Zoo, asking if the bear could be provided a good home. Ready to support the troops—no matter their species—the Zoo agreed and Boo Boo was brought to her new home by an official party that included Cdr. Williams; Chaplain G.M. Sheldon, Public Information Officer; and her keeper, Samuel Swenson, Boatswain’s Mate, Third Class, U.S.N. Here at the Zoo, Boo Boo eventually became part of her own bear “battalion” with fellow sun bears Josephine and Boysun Bear.

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