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Rapid City Journal (US)
Rapid City, South Dakota, newspaper
Thursday, April 3, 2003

Amos' daughter stands in for mom at Bear Country

by Kevin Woster, Journal Staff Writer

RAPID CITY -- It turned out that Tori Amos couldn't make it to Bear Country U.S.A. on Wednesday to see this year's crop of black bear cubs.

But she sent a perfectly qualified stand-in - her 2-1/2-year-old daughter, Natashya.

Amos, a pop singer, pianist and songwriter, performed Wednesday night at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Earlier in the day, she accepted an invitation by Sean Casey, one of the owners of Bear Country, to come see the cubs.

But Amos changed her plans when she got an invitation to visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the Wounded Knee site, which is prominent in Amos' latest album.

The cubs at Bear Country still got plenty of attention from Natashya, a chatty child with a fetching British accent and an obvious passion for Bear Country creatures great and small.

"I want the red one," she said, peering down into a box at a cub with a red ribbon around its neck.

Natashya got to pet several of the 16 cubs born last January at Bear Country. She also got a close-up gander at a bobcat and several raccoons kept in cages nearby.

Her comfort around animals comes from living with her mom and dad on a country place in southern England, her nanny, Rose Walker, said.

"She lives on a farm, so she knows animals," Walker said.

Walker kept track of Natashya as she joined Sean Casey's 3-year-old son, Grant, in the Bear Country frolic. They then went on to see Mount Rushmore with Karim Merali, general manager of Radisson Hotel.

Tori Amos and her family arrived at the Radisson on Wednesday morning and were scheduled to spend the night there after her performance. Shortly after their arrival, they met Sean Casey, who issued the invitation for the cub visit.

At 16, this year's batch of cubs is down significantly from last year's total of 25 and especially from previous annual production that had soared to as high as 80.

Bear Country could barely handle that many cubs, so the attraction began a system of birth-control techniques to curb reproduction.

"We were having way too many for a while there," Sean said. "The birth-control plan is working."

Still, there are plenty of cubs to maintain the Bear Country population - and to entertain a little girl with a big-name mom.

Contact Kevin Woster at 394-8413 or kevin.woster@rapidcityjournal.com


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