Critter expert Gary Bogue was the first curator of Walnut Creek’s Lindsay Wildlife Experience. He also spent 42 years as a wildlife and pet columnist for the Contra Costa Times, and has been a stalwart fundraiser for conservation- and animal-focused nonprofits including Save Mount Diablo, John Muir Land Trust, and Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. Here, the 81-year-old Bogue, who’s lived in Benicia for 30 years, looks back on his career and shares some of his favorite animal anecdotes.
Q: Lindsay Wildlife Experience has been going strong for more than 50 years, and you spent 12 years at its helm. Which of your Lindsay legacies makes you proudest?
A: Creating the wildlife hospital is certainly one. When I became curator in 1967, there was no rehab at Lindsay; it was just a natural history museum. People started bringing us injured animals, but we had no budget and no medical help. Nobody knew what to do.
After a lot of pestering, I persuaded a whole collection of vets to help us. We created the first wildlife rescue hospital of its kind. Now, there are hundreds throughout the world.
Q: You have helped rehabilitate everything from hummingbirds to black bears. What was your strangest animal rescue?
A: I got a call from Orinda reporting that there was a horse caught in barbed wire. So I drove out with one of my staff and discovered that it was a kangaroo. … When it saw me, it tried to go into a double spin. We had to use wire cutters to cut it free before relocating it to the San Francisco Zoo.
Q: You’ve written four children’s books about urban wildlife, including 2018’s Is That a Skunk? What should people know about skunks?
A: The purpose of these books is to help people understand animals and learn how to coexist with wildlife without killing it. I’ve been out watering my backyard innumerable times and felt something on my foot, looked down, and a skunk is trying to eat my shoestring. If you don’t mess with them—and you’re not a yappy puppy—then they won’t mess with you. Sure, it’s a pain when pets get sprayed. In my book, I share a formula to counteract skunk spray. But there are a lot of benefits to having skunks: They eat insects, slugs, snails, and yellow jackets.
Q: What is one of your favorite wildlife moments?
A: Walking on Mount Diablo with a mountain lion named Sioux. He was the first lion I took care of, and I had him trained so he would run free next to me. We took Sioux on the east side of the mountain, where there are very few trails, because we didn’t want people getting hurt. … It’s one of my fondest memories.