A diligent scholar is like a bee who takes honey from many different flowers and stores it in his hive.
—John Amos Comenius
This extremely disparate cross is alleged in various German-language publications. Though the existence of bear-cow hybrids is attested here by several independent reports, their actual occurrence has not been established. Indeed many might assume that such a hybrid is impossible. However, the practice on this website is to list all relevant reports under the heading of each type of cross and then to let the reader judge. In this way I hope to eliminate systematic bias from my work.
Košice is the largest city in eastern Slovakia, which prior to World War I was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The following appears on page 7 (columns 2 and 3) of the May 16, 1877 issue of the Viennese newspaper Welt Blatt:
|Location of Košice within Slovakia|
From Košice: On the 6th of this month, a veterinarian¹ residing at Košice, Herr Kaiser, was called to the nearby village of Buza where the pregnant cow of a farmer, named Glück, had been unable to calve despite all efforts to assist her. But when even the vet couldn't help, she had to be slaughtered. And what was inside! Instead of a calf, the assembled farm workers were amazed to find a fully formed bear cub weighing 60 Viennese pounds (i.e., 74 lbs or 33.5 kg). It had a long-haired, shaggy coat and resembled a calf only in the upper portion of its face. The nasal bones were absent and it was a cyclops with a single eye in the center of its forehead. At the urging of the veterinarian, this remarkable monstrosity was taken to Košice. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original German.]
A separate report about another alleged bear-cow hybrid appeared in the same newspaper, Welt Blatt, the following year (see page 9, column 1 of the May 18, 1878 issue):
From Hersbruck in Bavaria: Yesterday, in the little neighboring town of Velden, the cow of the bailiff there could not calve and, despite the help of a veterinarian, she could not be saved. And when they cut open the body, there came to light a thing that no one in these parts had ever seen before, which honestly had the following appearance: The head was like that of an unusually large pug dog. The neck was nonexistent. The body was covered with the long hair of a bear and, overall, was formed like that of a bear, with a bear's short tail. Only the feet were those of a cow. The creature is completely developed and would, perhaps, have lived if the mother had not been slaughtered. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original German.]
Hersbruck is about ten miles east of Nuremburg.
A third such report, but briefer, appears on page 5 (column 1) of the March 29, 1887 issue of the same newspaper, Welt Blatt. It reads as follow:
From Volders in the Tyrol it's reported that in Riccabonahofe near Volders, on the 21st and 22nd of this month, a cow gave birth to five stillborn calves. Four were of ordinary appearance, but the fifth was a so-called bear-calf [i.e, Bärenkalb]. The mother cow is, however, doing just fine. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original German.]
Location of Volders|
Volders is a municipality in the district of Innsbruck-Land in the Austrian state of Tyrol located 12 km east of Innsbruck on the southern side of the Inn River.
Another, much more recent article published in a newspaper in 1943, states that "bear-fawns [i.e., Bärenkälber] are found in the abortions of deer." It does not, however, elucidate or in any way document this statement.
If these reports were genuine and not mere mistakes or hoaxes, then one would have to assume that the male parent of this hybrid was a brown bear (Ursus arctos), the only ursid then residing in Europe.
The gestation period of U. arctos is approximately 228 days, that of a cow, about 274.
One additional report, not from Europe, but rather from southeastern Canada, appears on page 2 (column 1) of the April 25, 1904 issue of the St. John Daily Sun. Originally published in a Fredericton newspaper, The Daily Gleaner, it is very brief and reads as follows (source):
There has been born in St. Marys an animal which is causing considerable attention. Its mother is a cow and is half calf and half bear. Its head and neck are shaped similarly to a bear’s, and it has two tails, one similar to a calf’s on its side and the other similar to a bear’s attached at the regular place.
Saint Mary is a parish in Kent County, New Brunswick. The only bear that occurs in eastern Canada is the black bear (Ursus americanus).
Hybrids between Ursus americanus and U. arctos have been produced in captivity (see the bear hybrids page).
By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).
1. The word used was actually Kurschmied, a now defunct profession that combined the duties of veterinarian and farrier.
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