Dec. 25, 2011
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Zoo had plenty of visitors on a gorgeously warm Christmas Day in Southern California, including several Golden Bears continuing to enjoy bowl week activities prior to Cal's matchup with Texas in the 2011 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 28.
The Cal contingent got an early start at the zoo before most of the day's crowd arrived. As soon as the Bears got off the bus, a trio of players from North Carolina - brothers Keenan Allen and Zach Maynard, and cousin Maurice Harris - were part of a group of six Bears taken for a special backstage experience to feed the zoo's rhinos. Stephen Anderson, Bryan Anger and D.J. Holt were also in the group.
"It was a little intimidating but an awesome experience," Anger said. "A couple of guys were hesitant and didn't want to do it. I think everyone ending up doing it, but I'm not sure about Zach [Maynard]."
Indeed, Maynard was the most hesitant of all.
"I just wanted to pet him and see what it actually felt like to touch a rhino," Maynard explained on camera. "All the guys fed them, but that's not really my thing." Despite some good-natured peer pressure, Maynard continued to decline feeding the rhino but remained curiously fixated on his new 4,000-pound friend. Finally, just for the Bears left the area he gave in to his curiosity and gave it a try off camera. Still, the Bears' starting southpaw quarterback was smart enough to make sure to use his non-throwing right hand.
Afterwards, he was unavailable (or more accurately left alone) for comment but zoo employee Jimmy spoke on his behalf.
"The guys were a little nervous at first but they came around, so all went well," confirmed Jimmy, who was happy to go on the record.
Following their morning trip to the zoo, the Bears practiced for the third consecutive day at San Diego State before a Christmas dinner at the team hotel that also included the coaching and support staff as well as school administrators on the trip and their families.
The dinner was highlighted when Ron Coccimglio, the team's Director of Career Development/Assistant Director of Football Operations, led the entire room in a spirited and laughter-filled rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas."
With Christmas Day now in the rear view mirror and game day rapidly approaching, the team will conduct two more practices at San Diego State and attend the Navy and Marine Corps and Kickoff luncheons the next two days on the USS Boxer and at the San Diego Convention Center.
Visit CalBears.com for continued in-depth coverage of the team's stay in San Diego. Below is a list of some of the remaining highlights leading up to Wednesday's game.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 26
Practice (San Diego State)
Bowl Watch Sizing
Navy and Marine Corps Luncheon (USS Boxer)
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27
Practice (San Diego State)
Head Coaches Press Conference (The Omni Hotel)
Holiday Bowl Kickoff Luncheon (San Diego Convention Center)
Cal Pep Rally
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28
Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade (Downtown San Diego)
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl vs. Texas (Snapdragon Stadium by Qualcomm)