Christopher Robin's Little Trivia Page


Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends have long since become icons of popular culture. This wry contribution, coming from the pen of Tom K. Ryan (Tumbleweeds.com and, originally, King Features Syndicate), shows that Limpid Lizard and Little Pigeon (coincidentally, of the Poohawk tribe) are more than familiar with the Bear of Very Little Brain himself.

Ryan's connection between the original Teddy Bear, Pooh, Goldilocks (another pop icon) and Real Bears has inspired this little page of trivia about bears..


This is a photo of the largest Kodiak bear ever shot and mounted. It is on display at the J.C. Penney store in Anchorage, Alaska. According to the source of the original photograph, this bear originally weighed in at 1900 lbs., and stands over 10 feet tall on its hind legs.

The Kodiak bear is a subspecies of the brown bear, which ranges from Europe through Asia and into North America. (Another subspecies is the famous grizzly bear of North America.) The brown bear is the archetype of most "Teddy Bears". Polar bears (which range along the Arctic coasts of northern countries) and American black bears, along with the related giant panda, are the other obvious archetypes.

Sources vary as to whether the Kodiak bear or the polar bear is the largest bear. According to the Microsoft Encarta 98 (article, "Bear"), the Kodiak bear can reach a weight of 780 kg (1700 lb) and a height (when standing on its hind legs) of 3 m (10 ft). The more typical weight for brown bears is 440 kg (970 lb). However, the polar bear is longer than other bears. Supposedly (ibid., article "Polar Bear"), the largest wild bears ever weighed -- more than 800 kg (more than 1800 lb) -- have been polar bears. However, most male polar bears weigh an average of about 350 kg (about 880 lb), and most females weigh about 250 kg (550 lb).

Obviously, the Kodiak on display in Anchorage is said to be heavier (by up to 100 pounds) than any polar bear yet weighed in the wild. Also, the Kodiak bear (and even the brown bear generally) appears to be heavier on average than the polar bear. Whatever the case, both bears reign as the largest land carnivores now living. The famous cave bear (now extinct), which once ranged through Eurasia and North America, allegedly was even larger than the Kodiak bear, but again the data seems to speak against this conclusion. "Cave bears were comparable in size to the largest modern day bears. The average weight for males was 400–500 kilograms (880–1102 pounds), while females weighed 225–250 kg (496–551 lbs)."

Interestingly enough, Winnie-the-Pooh's ultimate inspiration was not a brown bear or even a male bear, but a female black bear named Winnie. Her story is told in Ann Thwaite's autobiography of A.A. Milne (pp. 283-285) and on the Web (one excellent place being a page on Justin Valentin's site). A.A. Milne had two different and typically whimsical explanations of his own for the name, in the Introduction to Winnie-the Pooh and in the first story of the book. (The reader is invited to discover all these stories for himself.)

Scientific classification: Bears make up the family Ursidae. The polar bear is classified as Ursus maritimus; the brown bear as Ursus arctos; the American black bear as Ursus americanus; the Asiatic black bear as Ursus thibetanus; the sun bear as Helarctos malayanus, although some sources classify it as Ursus malayanus; the sloth bear as Melursus ursinus, although some sources classify it as Ursus ursinus; and the spectacled bear as Tremarctos ornatus.

"Bear," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Created and Maintained Since 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


 

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Updated June 17, 2016