Zwei Eisbären

Die Eisbären der „Fürth“

Auf der zweiten Australienfahrt hatte die Fürth ungewöhnliche Passagiere an Bord: zwei Eisbären und zwei Nandus. Begeben wir uns auf Spurensuche:

Der Zoo in Adelaide ist der zweitälteste in Australien nach Melbourne. Die Anschaffung von Eisbären als Besucherattraktion wurde schon zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts überlegt, dann aber aus Geldgründen wieder verworfen. So dauerte es bis 1907, bis erneut darüber diskutiert wurde und Bären gekauft wurden:

At a meeting of the Zoological Society on Friday a letter was received from Mr. C. Hagenbeck, of Hamburg, offering various kinds of animals and birds. Among the former is a pair of Polar bears. The council being of opinion that a pair of these bears would be a great attraction in the gardens. The finance committee, with Messrs. H. Chesson and J. M. Reid, were asked to visit the Gardens with the view to select a site for their housing. Mr. Hagenbeck stated in his letter that be hoped to forward shortly a male cheetah as a mate for the one now in the Gardens.
The Register, Adelaide, Mo 17. Jun 1907, S. 4

Polar Bears Taronga Park Zoo Sydney 1925

Eisbären im Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney 1925, aus dem Zoo in Adelaide habe ich leider keine Eisbärenfotos gefunden; Foto ca. 1925
© State Library of South Australia, Ref. B 58973/150.

Ein neues Bärenhaus

Auch über das neue Gehege können wir etwas lesen:

„The polar bear house was finished on Thursday morning, and two of those white animals which love the ice and the snow arrived in the afternoon to occupy the swell abode. The new stonehouse, which, adjoins the cage which contains the brown bear, is 18 ft. 7 in. square. It has tiled arched walls and a magnificent ferro-concrete dome. The bath in the centre is 9 ft. 6 in. square and 3 ft. 6 in. dep. There is a shower which will sprinkle the walls when hot weather prevails, and two retiring houses. The Polar bears, which are half-grown, are a male and a female, and were purchased from Hagenbeck, Hamburg. The house cost £550 and the bears landed £170.”
The Register, Adelaide, Fr 17. Apr 1908, S. 4, TWO POLAR BEARS FOR THE ZOO.

Anm: 18 ft. 7 in. square entspricht ca. 32 m2; 9 ft. 6 in square sind knapp 8,5 m2

Dass es sich um Männchen und Weibchen handelte, war wohl verbunden mit der Hoffnung auf Nachwuchs, entsprach aber nicht Realität, denn in letzten Meldung (s. u.) heißt es „Both were males“.

Bear (?) pit and refreshment rooms Adelaide Zoo, Fotograf: Trengove, Arthur M, © State Library of South Australia [PRG1480/4/29]

Zoo Adelaide, es handelt sich eventuell um das Bärenhaus, diese Angabe ist aber mit einem Fragezeichen versehen; © State Library of South Australia [PRG1480/4/29]

Tragischer Zwischenfall

1920 kam es zu einem tragischen Zwischenfall, als die Bären einen Wärter attackierten, der unvorsichtigerweise versucht hatte, beim Reinigen des Geheges einen darin hineingeratenen Wasserschlauch zurückzuholen. Dabei wurde er von einem Bären angegriffen, der ihm den Arm am Ellbogen abriss:

Keeper’s Arm Torn Off.

Samuel May, aged 65 years employed at the Adelaide Zoological Gardens as a keeper, had a sensational and painful experience this morning. At about 7 o clock he was engaged in hosing out the polar bears‘ house from outside the enclosure. The attention of the director (Mr. A. C. Minchin) and others was attracted by terrible screams. Mr. Minchin rushed to investigate and found May lying on the cement flooring outside the quarters of the two large white bears with his right arm torn off at the elbow. The unfortunate man was taken to hospital in the police ambulance. He subsequently explained that he was hosing when one of the bears, which were in the exercising yards, grabbed the hose and his hand and, pulling him against the iron bars, tore his arm asunder. May has been at the Zoo for 36 years, and was regarded as a capable man with wild animals. He is a widower with a family. His arm above the elbow was badly lacerated. The other part could not be found. The bathing pool was emptied, but in vain. It was reported from the hospital to-night that May’s condition was serious, and that he was suffering from shock. It is not yet known whether the remaining portion of the man’s arm will have to be amputated.
The Argus, Melbourne, Mo 16. Feb 1920, S. 6,  ADELAIDE ZOO SENSATION.

Ein Todesfall

Noch in einer Meldung vom gleichen Tag erfahren wir, dass der Wärter die Attacke nicht überlebte:

Samuel May, whose arm was torn off at the elbow yesterday morning by a polar bear while hosing out the cage, died early this morning. He was a widower with a family.
The Herald, Melbourne, Mo 16. Feb 1920, S. 7,  Victim of Polar Bear

General view of the Adelaide Zoo, approx. 1910. State Library of South Australia, Ref. B 68807.

Ansicht des Zoos in Adelaide, ca. 1910, © State Library of South Australia, Ref. B 68807.


Wieder dauert es lange, bis wir von den Bären neues erfahren, und zwar bis 1933, als einer der beiden starb. Offensichtlich wurde der kurze Artikel von einem Journalisten der Wirtschaftsredaktion verfasst, denn der Verlust wird sofort in Pfund beziffert:

A Polar bear at the Adelaide Zoological Garden died to-day after 25 years in captivity. It was worth at least £50.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners‘ Advocate, Sa 4. Mrz 1933, S. 10

Etwas ausführlicher diese Meldung, in der noch einmal auf den tragischen Zwischenfall von 1920 eingegangen wird und in dem mitgeteilt wird, das nur drei Bären länger in Gefangenschaft überlebt hätten.

Death of Aged Polar Bear
One of the Polar bears in Adelaide Zoo died last night after having been in captivity for 25 years. It is believed that it died in its sleep. During the bear’s long stay at the Zoo, it had never been ill and had taken food regularly. – There is still one Polar bear left at the Zoo. Twelve years ago the two were responsible for the death of a keeper named May. He had been cleaning out their cage when one of the bears took hold of a hose. May put his hand inside to regain the hose, and quick as lightning one of the animals ripped an arm off. May died shortly after from the injury. According to records only three other bears have lived longer in captivity. The oldest died in London Zoo after 33 years and two others lived in captivity for 27 and 26 years respectively.
Recorder, Port Pirie, Sa 4. Mrz 1933, S. 1

Tückisch, jähzornig und unsympathisch – „Tiger und Löwen sind freundlich dagegen“

Im Jahr 1934 gibt es einen weiteren Bericht über den Zoo. Das Prewalski-Pferd Jimmy wird als ältester Zoobewohner vorgestellt, gefolgt von dem zweitältesten Zoobewohner, dem verbliebenen Eisbären der „Fürth“.

Der Zoodirektor Minchin äußert sich über den Charakter der Bären und beschreibt sie als tückisch, jähzorning und unsympathisch. Kein Wunder, neben dem Vorfall mit den zwei Eisbären gab es Adelaider Zoo noch einen Vorfall mit einem Schwarzbären, der ebenfalls einen Wärter angefallen hatte und daraufhin erschossen wurde.

Wenn der Name Minchin in allen Zooartikeln wieder erscheint, ist dies darauf zurückzuführen, dass diese Familie 1934 schon in vierter Generation den Zoo leitete.

The oldest inhabitant of the Zoo at present is the wild horse, Prjevalski—Jimmie for short—who has been an inmate for 26 years, and is still a wild horse, permitting no familiarities. Next to him in point of long residence is the Polar bear, which arrived in 1908.
Animal Temperament
„Of all animals I have ever dealt with,“ said Mr. Minchin „the most treacherous and evil-tempered and unlikeable is the Polar bear. Tigers and lions are friendly in comparison. The only fatal accidents we have known in the gardens were attacks by bears—a Polar bear that ripped an attendant’s arm out one morning while he was feeding it, and a black American bear that mauled one of the keepers—leaving him unrecognisable – aghastly business that I shall never forget. The bear had to be shot before we could come to the man’s assistance, and then it was too late.“
The Advertiser, Adelaide, Do 14. Jun 1934, S. 19,  BIRDS AND BEASTS IN ADELAIDE ZOO

A bear in a cage at the Adelaide Zoological Gardens, ca. 1915, © State Library of South Australia [B 61609]

Bär im Zoo Adelaide, ca. 1915; es muss sich um den im Text beschriebenen amerikanischen Schwarzbären handeln, der einen Wärter anfiel.


Die letzte Meldung betrifft dann den Tod des zweiten Eisbären der „Fürth“. Der Bär war zum Zeitpunkt des Todes jetzt der älteste Zoobewohner in Adelaide und der dokumentiert drittälteste Eisbär in Gefangenschaft, allerdings seit einiger Zeit nicht mehr in guter gesundheitlicher Verfassung.

Brought To Adelaide In 1908
The polar bear, the oldest inhabitant of the Adelaide Zoo, died yesterday morning. It lived for 27 years at the Zoo—a period of captivity which ranks high in the world’s zoological records. The director of the Zoological Gardens (Mr. Ron Minchin) said that the bear arrived from Hagenbach’s (sic) animal park, Hamburg, on April 18, 1908. The animal was then about two years old and was thus about 29 years of age at its death. The bear had not been well for some time: its teeth had decayed and generally it was not in good condition. The other bear, which came out at the same time, died on March 3, 1933. Both were males. The record age for a polar bear living in captivity was 33 years, this age having been attained by one at the London Zoo. Another had lived at the Dublin Zoo for 27 years. The local animal had attained third place with regard to longevity, and in view of the warm climate of Australia, the zoo had attained an excellent record. The oldest animal in the zoo is now the wild horse of Mongolia, which arrived in Adelaide in February, 1910, and was presented by the Duke of Bedford, the only person who had tried to cross the wild horse with the domestic animal.
The Advertiser, Adelaide, Di 15. Okt 1935, S. 14

Damit endet die Geschichte der Eisbären, die im Jahr 1908 mit dem Dampfschiff „Fürth“ nach Adelaide kamen.

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