Shortly after gold was discovered, it was decided to steal what is now California from Mexico. The rebels adopted a flag featuring a grizzly bear. The bear can still be seen on California’s flag, even though the last California grizzly was killed in 1922.
Today, the California grizzly is California’s official state animal. It is depicted on both the state flag and seal. The bear shares the latter with grapes, a prospector, the state motto, ships sailing in the distance, and the Roman goddess Minerva.
Bigger still is California’s official marine mammal, the gray whale. The explorers Lewis and Clark once witnessed a flock of California condors feasting on a gray whale carcass. Bears also scavenged whale carcasses.
Gray whales were probably swimming in California waters long before saber-toothed cats (the state fossil) became extinct. Did sabertooths once scavenge beached whale carcasses?
State Mammals Home