PR: Baltimore Bear's Animal Magnetism Earns Stardom,Job Offer
"Magnet is crowned America's favorite zoo animal, To be featured in the Microsoft Zoo Tycoon PC Game
REDMOND, Wash. - Dec 13, 2001 - Snow, smelt and CD-Roms. Microsoft Corp.'s first-ever four-legged employee will be juggling all three when he joins the software company's PC Games division. Magnet, a polar bear from The Baltimore Zoo, today was given the top honor in the nationwide Microsoft "Zoo Tycoon" Beast in Show campaign sponsored by Microsoft. As Microsoft's newest hire and one of its most famous employees, Magnet will provide expertise in Arctic habitats to the "Zoo Tycoon" game. In addition to receiving a $20,000 signing bonus (to be used by The Baltimore Zoo for habitat restoration) and his own honorary Microsoft employee badge, Magnet secured a high-profile position in the new "Zoo Tycoon" PC game. "Zoo Tycoon" players will be able to download Magnet into the game and try their hand at caring for the 800-pound predator. Players will be challenged to build the ultimate zoo habitat for Magnet while ensuring that he is fed and cared for. The game will feature photographs and facts about Magnet, such as his enthusiasm for smelt and his talent for swimming on his back. Icing out nine other animals nominated by enthusiastic zoo supporters nationwide, 13-year-old Magnet emerged victorious after two weeks of ferocious competition. The Baltimore Zoo, the third oldest zoo in the nation, will use the $20,000 Microsoft donation to defray some of the costs of updating its 54-year-old polar bear habitat. Similarly, "Zoo Tycoon" players will be able to undertake designing and building Magnet's new habitat when the polar bear's likeness is made available for download into the PC game. Animal lovers across the country voted online for the Beast in Show by logging on to the "Zoo Tycoon" site. Magnet captured thousands of votes from across the country, triumphing over his bestial competition:
"Colliet" and "Chumbee," koalas, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Cleveland
"Farrah," fossa, Dallas Zoo, Dallas
"Hansa," Asian elephant, Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle "Kubi," silverback gorilla, San Francisco Zoo, San Francisco
"Liberty," southern bald eagle, Houston Zoo, Houston "Jewel," hippopotamus, Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento, Calif.
"Starlet O'Hara," African elephant, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta "Shere" and "Shaka Khan," twin Siberian tigers, Virginia Zoological Park, Norfolk, Va.
"Tombi," rhinoceros, Memphis Zoo, Memphis, Tenn.
Click here to download Magnet
Magnet, the polar bear from Baltimore, wins Beast in Show!
Magnet, the winning animal in the Beast in Show campaign, is a 13-year-old male polar bear from the Baltimore Zoo. Magnet has been a favorite among visitors of all ages since his arrival to Baltimore in 1990. Born at the Toledo Zoo in 1988, Magnet received his name when keepers noticed that the young bear never left his mother's side. He was like a "magnet" to her.
Often seen playing with his toys or basking in the sun, Magnet's favorite past time is swimming in his pool, where he dives for hours in the icy waters.
While Magnet enjoys cold winters, his adaptations help him cope with warmer summers as well. Polar bears have a four-inch layer of blubber that acts as insulation - keeping them warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Despite appearances, Magnet's fur is not white. Each hair is actually colorless and transparent with a hollow core. Polar bears look white because the hollow core scatters and reflects visible light. Beneath their fur, their skin is actually black.
Magnet enjoys eating meat and fish and weighs approximately 802 pounds. Polar bears like Magnet, work hard to keep their fur clean. After feeding, they will head immediately for water to wash off. They will also groom themselves by licking their paws, chests and muzzles.
Polar bears, like Magnet, are solitary animals, only coming together with other bears during the spring mating season. The rest of the year, they roam singly or in small family groups consisting of a mother and her young. These animals get very agitated when placed in the same exhibit as other animals.
Polar bears are extremely smart. One researcher has compared their intelligence to that of apes. In captivity, in addition to the snow, ice, and deep water they require, they respond well to more stimulating environments that also include areas of sand, grass, and hard ground. When not hunting, polar bears are playful creatures. When bored, agitated, or upset, polar bears will roar, pace, and swing their heads.