Thursday, August 01, 2013

Trained Bear

I have heard reports that a traveling entertainer came to Ocracoke many years ago (sometime in the 19th century) with a trained bear. Apparently the bear performed circus-type tricks and was a highly popular amusement.

I was reminded of the bear when I read this passage about Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor from 1220-1250:

"Frederick did everything on a grand scale. Popularly known as Stupor mundi (wonder of the world), the young king of Germany, Italy, Sicily, and Burgundy always traveled with a large entourage that included foot soldiers, knights, officials, pages, slaves, dancing girls, jugglers, musicians, and eunuchs, together with his exotic menagerie of lions, leopards, panthers, bears, and apes, all led on chains, hunting dogs, hawks, peacocks, parakeets, ostriches, and a giraffe. A caravan of camels transported his supplies, and Frederick himself would ride at the head of the procession, while at the rear an elephant carried a wooden platform on its back on which were perched trumpeters and archers with crossbows." (from The Man of Numbers, Fibonacci's Arithmetic Revolution).

I suppose just one trained bear was sufficient to impress Ocracokers.

Our current Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of Infant & Childhood Mortality on Ocracoke. You can read it here:


  1. Your account of that caravan sounds like some really great ideas for next year's Fourth of July float!

  2. Anonymous11:52 PM

    But for the fact, that the memory of WOR's Jean Shepherd singing The Bear Missed the Train popped into my head after reading this I would not have done an internet search of trained bears. Now, the 19th century is the 1800s right-- well-- the historic window of circa 1914 to 1917 was mentioned regarding a German trained bear act which included roller skating bears, tight rope walking bears , piano playing bears, acrobatic bears on the flying trapeeze etc. anyway, due to WWI ,the country of origin for the Bear act as a traveling show lost popularity. But a well known circus worked thenm into the circuit. Perhaps the man and his bear wanted a vacay and traveled your way to OI.DD

  3. Anonymous10:19 AM

    What's the big deal? If he was living today he could pack light & still have access to that & much more . Just think how impressed he'd have been with an iphone! Oh wait... I don't think there's an app for eunuchs.