THE INLAND WHITE BEAR.
A few weeks ago the writer had the pleasure of welcoming at the Carnegie Museum his honored friend, Mr. Win. T. Hornaday, the Director of the Zoological Gardens in Bronx Park, New York. Conversation turned upon the latest discoveries in the field of zoological research, and Mr. Hornaday announced that he had just described a new species of bear, 'The Inland White Bear,' to which he had applied the name of Ursus kermodei. After Mr. Hornaday had given the writer the substance of his article, which, as he said, would be read in New York on the evening of the very day we were chatting together, the writer asked him whether he 'would like to see a mounted specimen of the beast.' A look of surprise passed over his features, but in a moment he was piloted to one of the exhibition halls of the Carnegie Museum, and there he saw, what he least expected to see, a beautiful mounted specimen of the animal.
This specimen was acquired by purchase from Mr. Frederic S. Webster, the veteran taxidermist, at the time when his private collection was purchased by the trustees of the Carnegie Institute and he accepted the position of chief preparator in the Section of Zoology in the museum. For many years it has stood in a case and has been pointed out as an 'albino black bear.'
The story of its original acquisition by Mr. Webster may best be told in the words of Mr. Webster himself:
"A number of years ago the firm of Arnold, Constable & Co., of New York, purchased in the London market a lot of skins of the polar bear. I was at that time in business in New York and these skins, a dozen or more of them, were turned over to me to be made up into rugs. In the bundle I found the skin of this little bear, which I at once recognized as not being a Polar bear. I had never seen such a specimen before, but concluded that it was the skin 01 an albino black bear. I purchased the skin and mounted it. The skull was with the head. The specimen was in excellent condition. The fact that the muzzle was black, and not pale in color, as would be likely to be the case in an albino animal, puzzled me at the time. The thickness of the woolly fur also attracted my attention, but having mounted the animal, I did not give the matter much thought afterward."
The specimen, of which a picture from a photograph by Mr. A. S. Coggeshall is herewith given, is thus far the only mounted specimen known to exist in any of the museums of the world. The skin is no doubt that of an individual taken in British Columbia, the home of the animal, which found its way into the London fur market from Canada. It was mistaken for an immature Polar bear, and was so classified by the dealer who sold the bundle of skins to the agent of Messrs. Arnold, Constable & Co.
|W. J. Holland.|
|February 3, 1905.|