The docility of the polar bear (1901)

Ursus maritimus Polar Bear antique lithograph

Docility of the polar bear

Hitherto it has been supposed that polar bears could neither be trained nor rendered docile, but now Richard Sawade, a well known European tamer of animals and notable authority on bears in particular, shows clearly that such a supposition is entirely erroneous.

He secured two polar bears some time ago and at once was determined to train them. In this he succeeded beyond his expectation — so well, indeed, that these monstrous animals now follow him as obediently as dogs, ready at his slightest nod to perform any of the little tricks which they have learned from him.

Their education in this respect is not yet complete, but that they have learned more than any of their ancestors is evident from the fact that at a word from their master they get up on their hind legs, and in this manner follow him at a respectful distance like lackeys as he walks around the room.

Mr Sawade claims that polar bears are endowed with more intelligence than is generally imagined, and that if properly handled, they will in time become quite as docile as other animals.


Image: Ursus maritimus, Polar Bear (Male) by John Bachman (1790-1874)

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