Darian from the Long White Kid mentioned a cool item of Trade Me the other day, so I tried my hand at online auctions for the first time. I lost out on what Darian gave me the head's up on -- but I found this, and succeeded. Meet "The Cadger", an animal at Auckland Zoo c.1939 (date of message on the back of the card) which seems to be a black bear from America.
Closest article in Papers Past which may relate, at least in part, to the Cadger is this:
BITTEN BY BEARATTENDANT AT ZOOATTACK QUITE UNEXPECTED(By Telegraph—Press Association.)AUCKLAND, February 2.Attacked by a ten-year-old black bear at the Auckland Zoo this morning, a keeper, Mr W Hawke, suffered severe lacerations to the left leg. He was carrying out the usual daily cleaning of the pit when the animal attacked him without warning, gripping him behind the knee with its teeth.The bear is a member of a species common in America. It was born at the zoo ten years ago and at no time showed signs of viciousness. It was held in such trust, in fact, that it was allowed to roam loose, in the pit while cleaning was carried out. Another occupant of the pit, a bear newly arrived from California, was not sufficiently well known to the keepers to be trusted in such a way, and it was locked up, each time they entered.Mr Hawke entered the pit this morning in company with his brother, Mr Alan Hawke, who is also a keeper. Apparently the animal had the traditional bear's "sore head" and was "out of sorts" for the time being, for turned suddenly on the keeper and its sharp fangs tore into the flesh of his leg. His brother came quickly to his assistance and drove the bear away. He then helped his brother to climb out of the pit. Medical attention was given while the arrival of an ambulance was awaited. Mr. Hawke was taken to the Auckland Hospital, where his condition this afternoon was satisfactory.Accidents of this kind in zoological gardens are extremely rare. It is believed, indeed, that never before has a keeper at the Auckland Zoo been attacked in such a way by any animal. In Yellowstone Park, United States, the black bear roams wild in forest preservations and is a constant attraction to tourists.
Evening Post 3.4.1938
Ten years before, when the bear who attacked the keeper had been born, two bear pits were constructed at the zoo, one for polar bears, the other for the black bears. With today's eyes, the one holding the Cadger looks especially bleak.
Adjoining the pit for the Polar bear, is the pit for the black bears, not quite so big and differently built, to allow of more scrambling up and down. There are laddery walks in concrete, and at the top will be a pile of logs for claw sharpening. In both pits the bears will be in sight except when they are in the dens. A walk is being built right round both these concrete bear palaces, and when the levels have been reached the walls fronting tho walks will be about three feet high, crowned with strong curved iron spikes, though the bears will not be able to reach them. Netting will prevent eager youngsters from toppling into the bears' baths. These pits are worthy of any zoo in the world.
Evening Post 3.10.1928
The bear born at Auckland Zoo appears to have been female, according to a report in the Hobart Mercury, 29 April 1936, when the Council bought a black bear from America as a companion.
The Sir George Grey Special Collections at Auckland Library have some images of bears in the zoo's black bear pit (these were found by Liz -- cheers, my friend):
The polar bears and their pit -- is a whole 'nother story in itself. A very sad one, too.