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Contact: Michael Groomer, 915-532-7273 x124
A new member of the Chamizal National Memorial team has just reported for duty - the memorial's new mascot, Chami the Ground Squirrel. The story of Chami began a few years ago in relation to a concern that has been challenging the staff. One of the common misconceptions about urban units of the National Park System is that they do not have wildlife. And while it would be a surprise to see a black bear lumber across the memorial's grounds, there is a thriving community of spotted ground squirrels. There have long been challenges with people trying to capture them to keep as pets, and visitors hurting or killing them. The staff came up with the brilliant idea to create a mascot to teach about the memorial's natural resources and the idea of Chami was born!
As with many great ideas, it started to grow and spread. Chami was also enlisted to promote and be the face of the memorial's new Junior Ranger program. He made his first appearance as part of the memorial's bilingual Web Ranger program. The memorial also has developed a new Junior Ranger booklet featuring Chami. The memorial tapped into the El Paso art scene and put out a call for artwork for the booklet. Six different artists submitted work. Nacho Garcia, an artist and book illustrator, was chosen. Mr. Garcia created a portfolio of wonderful images that are now the heart of the new Junior Ranger Booklet/program.