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Perth Zoo Bear Pit 1935

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Newzooboy, 2 Sep 2016.

  1. Newzooboy

    Newzooboy Well-Known Member

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    Found this as collateral for a different search....

    Polar Bear Enclosure, old pit that held Asiatic Blacks into the 70s, or something else entirely.

    Seems to be in front on those old cave-like cages that still exist.....

    07 Jun 1935 - NEW BEAR PIT FOR THE ZOO - Trove
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    this 1993 piece about the destruction of the old bear pits says they were originally constructed in 1955 (perhaps a mistake for 1935 if the same as above though):
    https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Court/1993/08/Closure-of-bear-pits-at-Perth-Zoo.aspx
     
  3. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Does anyone know which of the following were the 10 different species/subspecies of bear mentioned as being exhibited at Perth? 10 species sounds a lot, even by today's standards.

    American black bear
    Cinnamon bear
    Kermode bear

    Asian black bear
    Baluchistan bear or Pakistan black bear
    Formosan black bear

    Brown bear
    Atlas bear
    Bergman's bear
    Blue bear
    Eurasian brown bear
    European brown bear
    Gobi bear
    Grizzly bear
    Himalayan brown bear
    Ussuri brown bear
    Kamchatka brown bear
    Kodiak bear
    Marsican brown bear (critically endangered)
    Mexican grizzly bear
    East Siberian brown bear
    Syrian brown bear

    Giant panda

    Sloth bear
    Sri Lankan sloth bear

    Sun bear

    Polar bear

    Spectacled bear

    Ursid hybrid
    Grizzly–polar bear hybrid
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    in the 1930s and 50s the list of recognised subspecies would have been a lot different to your list.

    From looking through some old papers, it seems that while work began in 1934 on clearing the ground and pegging out the planned site, construction didn't actually begin until 1937. It had to wait until the penguin pool (for fairy penguins) was completed, which took until 1937. They were still trying to fund-raise for the bear pits in 1936. The pits, according to one 1934 article, would provide five compartments for bears grouped around a pool for the two polar bears.

    From various newspaper articles, in 1934 and the following few years the bears at the zoo included two polar bears, two Russian brown bears, Himalayan bears (number not given), Borneo and Malayan bears (presumably both referring to sun bears from Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia), and a black bear (species unnamed, referred to in one article as "the black bear from South America" which I think probably meant North America) which died in 1940 after 26 years.


    Unrelated to the old bear pits, there's a 1987 photo of Ussuri brown bears in the gallery - http://www.zoochat.com/23/ussuri-brown-bear-enclosure-perth-zoo-29999/ - although with a comment that they are probably the Hokkaido bears, and also mentioning black bears and a kodiak/grizzly cross.
     
  5. Newzooboy

    Newzooboy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for additional info here.....

    I can only remember a single pit from the 1970s, which held a pair of young Asiatic Black Bears. Possibly the others were still there but not viewable. Polar Bears had their own enclosure, and all other bears were in the 'Bear/ Dog Row' of concrete cages (the one with BEARS in big red letters written across the top).

    The Ussuri bear picture was take at the latter on the late 80s......I changed the title after the comment about the Hokkaido pair, since I assumed this meant that's what they are? Are Hokkaido bears a different (sub)species to Ussuri? Single island race?

    Don't suppose you have any pics of any of the above mentioned enclosures?
     
  6. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    Ussuri bears are found over a wider area than just Hokkaido, but I don't know if Perth had two types of Ussuri bears or if they just had the Hokkaido version of Ussuri bear.

    I am quite confused over all the accounts of enclosures for bears at Perth over the years. Many papers earlier than 1934 mention a bear pit at the zoo, as well as the bear cages themselves. Some articles specifically refer to the cages as bear pits (i.e. using "bear pits" as a general term for a bear cage). The construction of the bear pit from your 1934 article didn't start until 1937 and (given how long their penguin pool took) may not have been completed for several years. But then that 1993 article I linked to said the bear pits were constructed in 1955. I couldn't find any articles about construction of a 1955 bear pit, but I also couldn't find anything about a different pit for the polar bears.

    Was the black bear pit you saw in the 1970s next to the bear cages? And where was the polar bear pit in relation?

    I know there was a bear pit by the cages (presumably the one from your 1934 link) because several sources mention it is now beneath the Australian bushwalk area.

    I haven't seen any photos of the old pits except the polar bear one from the 1970s and now I can't find that again (it was on a Facebook page, and they don't show up in Google Image searches). I gather it could be viewed directly across but also from above like a pit. In 1972 a man jumped into the pit after attacking several people, and was killed by the two bears in there.
     
  7. Newzooboy

    Newzooboy Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the info on Japanese Brown Bear (sub) species. I think Perth probably just had a pair of Hokkaido bears and all there other brown bears (over the years) were of other original........but I don't know for sure.

    I am no expert on the full history of Perth's bear enclosures. I did visit the zoo many, many times between 1974 and 1978 (and then once in 1987).......never again since. I know what I remember and have photographs of (sadly very few)...but I was pretty young so could easily be mistaken.

    There was the row of large bare concrete cages (the so-called (at least by me!) 'Bear/Dog Row') - I only remember Brown Bears and Hunting Dogs in there, but there were certainly other species present; a small deep pit (may have been two) with a high dead tree in the middle which held a pair of young Asiatic Black bears for at least some of those 4 years in the 70s; and then finally the large new (in the 70s) enclosure for Polar Bears. This was a sort of pit but not dug into the ground, rather high brick walls creating hte same effect. You could only view from above via a concrete platform/ walkway which allowed viewing over the top of the wall or, I think, through little windows placed in the top of the wall.

    I have a map from 1976/77. Will dig this out as will assist with placing locations of everything.

    Incidentally, the 'bear caves' that are still present and now represent a hstrorical display of Perth's past, I don't remember at all from the 1970s. They MAY have held dogs (dingo, wolf, etc) then and been in a dark corner that I didn't frequent very often, or they may have been off-show by then. Again the map may help.

    Back with more later...
     
  8. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    Much of what you have mentioned tallies with my memories. The bear row included (not necessarily all were kept at the same stage) Asiatic blacks, Malayan Suns, the Hokkaido pair, Syrian pair and also a Grizzly/Kodiak cross, in addition to the hunting dogs and striped hyaenas. Maned wolves apparently were also in this row at some stage. Polars were on the end. The viewing of the latter was from high up over the walls, while the rest of the row was at ground level through bars. Don't remember how many pens altogether but roughly half a dozen.

    Don't believe that there have been any other browns apart from those I have mentioned (during the 70/80s; although going back further is another matter). Definitely there was a pair of Hokkaido bears (t'was myself that has mentioned it previously in the gallery), but they may have been also referred to as Ussuri or something else. Apparently they were real bastards for trying to swipe the keeper's feet in the narrow dark raceway at the back.

    An interesting 'fact' (told to me by a friend who used to work the round) - the 'escape' procedure should a bear accidentally have entered the raceway, there was a small hatch at the end which lead directly into the banteng paddock (behind the bear row). This was not necessarily a better nor safer option!

    The existing 'bear caves' did hold canids (definitely dingos, red fox) at some stage, probably after the bear row was constructed. For some reason I feel that I saw animals in them, but this must have been very early to mid 70s. A bit vague.
     
  9. animal_expert01

    animal_expert01 Well-Known Member

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    I though atlas bears were extinct...
     
  10. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    They are. I suspect the list was lifted roughly from Wikipedia or similar. Most of the subspecies mentioned are pretty vague and probably not valid ie. European browns vs Eurasian browns...
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    yeah, it was straight from Wikipedia's "List of bears" page.

    If you click on either Eurasian or European (on the actual page) both links take you to Wikipedia's main page on Eurasian Brown Bear.
     
  12. Newzooboy

    Newzooboy Well-Known Member

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    I have located my old Perth guidebook and maps.

    The guide and accompanying map were definitely purchased on a visit in summer (xmas time) 1977 (I know this because we never purchased any guidebooks on visits, but my grandparents visited from England that year and purchased one as a souvenir, which came back to me when my granddad died in the late 80s).

    I also have a map from 1987.

    I will scan and upload them shortly, and also some pictures from the guidebook.

    I suspect, however, that it was actually printed in 1975 (there is code number on the back which suggest this) and they stuck with the same issue for some time afterwards. It supports tetrapod's memory of the the polar bear enclosure being directly next to the bear row. However, it does not mention the bear pits at all......seems no one except me remembers these. I think they may have been near the second entrance/ exit. It also does not feature the nocturnal house, which I remember when first opened (1976?).....although does note that the site is 'under construction'.

    Anyway, it seems that my long gestated Perth history project is gathering pace.......
     
  13. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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  14. Newzooboy

    Newzooboy Well-Known Member

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  15. tetrapod

    tetrapod Well-Known Member

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    Added some comments to your maps on the gallery. Had just a thought that the remains of the polar bear exhibit may be under the wallaby/tortoise exhibit on the 87 map. This was an odd exhibit as there was a high wall to view into the exhibit (basically eye-level with the tortoises). Would go some way to explaining the oddness of it all. Of course all now under the Aust bushwalk exhibit...