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Spitfire [& mukisi]

Summer of 1956 in the old bear cages behind the camel house

Spitfire [& mukisi]
mukisi, 27 Mar 2012
    • mukisi
      Summer of 1956 in the old bear cages behind the camel house
    • IanRRobinson
      Thanks for the photo, Mukisi. What happened to this animal?

      I was seven when these enclosures were demolished, and I wish that I did remember them.
    • Tim May
      There was a young polar bear at Whipsnade about this time called "Spitfire" (which I believe came from Nuremberg Zoo).

      Were these the same animals?
    • Pertinax
      Too much of a coincidence not to be?

      I remember the one at Whipsnade, It was a very small cub and was in a small concreted pit-like enclosure in the old children's zoo. I thought it was a wild 'orphan' but presumably not. I guess this is the same bear.
    • Tim May
      You might well be right that Whipsnade’s polar bear cub “Spitfire” was a wild orphan; I’m not certain that this animal was acquired from Nuremberg Zoo (which is why I used the word "believe").

      However, somewhere at the back of my mind, I seem to recall reading that this polar bear cub came from Nuremberg Zoo; unfortunately I cannot remember where I read this… was a long time ago..…..
    • Pertinax
      I would bet that you are right.;) I may well have assumed it was a 'wild' cub though like you, may also have had some extra information at the time to back that up. It was very small and I clearly remember it running around the enclosure on a grey/foggy winter afternoon bawling pitifully until they took it a bottle of milk which it then drank greedily. Obviously it had one of the adjacent stables at night.
    • Tim May
      I’ve traced the article I was thinking of; what follows is based on information proved in the Summer 1956 and Autumn 1956 editions of the ZSL publication “Zoo Life”.

      Whipsnade Zoo received the three month old polar bear cub “Spitifire” from Nuremberg Zoo in exchange for two female American bison; “Spitfire” was first put on display at Easter 1956.

      By the summer of 1956 “Spitfire” had grown too large for the accommodation in Whipsnade’s Children’s Zoo so was transferred to London Zoo.

      (Confusingly some of the articles refer to this polar bear cub as ‘he’ others as ‘she’.)
    • Pertinax
      Knew that you would be right about where it came from.;)

      I must have seen him/her between Easter and summer 1956 which was hardly winter as I described but remember it was a typical raw Whipsnade type of day. I would have been nine at the time.

      I do not subsequently remember it at ZSL though.
    • Duerener1
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    ZSL London Zoo
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    27 Mar 2012
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