A Puma-bear Hybrid?

Mammalian Hybrids



A diligent scholar is like a bee who takes honey from many different flowers and stores it in his hive.
John Amos Comenius
Cinnamon Bear Cinnamon Bear
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A puma/black bear hybrid was reported in California newspapers in 1904. To be exact, the report refers to cinnamon bear. The Cinnamon Bear is usually treated as a subspecies (cinnamomum) of the Black Bear (Ursus americanus). However, since cinnamomum occurs in regions where U. americanus and U. arctos overlap, and since it resembles the latter in coat color while being classified as a subspecies of the former, the possibility should be considered that it may be derived from hybridization between U. americanus and U. arctos, especially given that it is known that such hybrids have occurred both in the wild and in captivity.

The following article was originally published in the Stockton Record, but the transcript as it appears here was taken from page 4, column 3, of the May 21, 1904, issue of the Mariposa Gazette (source):

Peculiar Freak From Calaveras

    Walter Hansel has one of the most peculiar freak pets ever seen in this city. The strange animal is a cross between a mountain lion and a cinnamon bear. “It” was captured wild among the hills of Calaveras County, near Comanche, by J. Goodwin of that place. The little fellow is still a cub, being but eight months old. When first captured he was very savage, but during the three months that he has been in captivity the cub has been tamed to such an extent that he will allow people to pet him. Mr. Hansel leads him about by a rope attached to his automobile.
    Norris Brothers were attracted by the freak while in this city and offered Mr. Hansel $50 for the cub. They wished to train it and add it to their already large menagerie. Hansel refused the offer. The animal stands two and a half feet high and is of a brownish color. But for his tail, which is much longer than a bear’s and curls straight back over his back, and his face, which betrays a slight trace of lion, the animal might be taken for a cinnamon cub.
    The freak has all the traits of a bear. He walks restlessly up and down at the end of his rope, similar to a bear in captivity. Hansel has had the animal but three days, but in that time it has attracted the attention of hundreds of Stocktonians. It was presented to him by its captor, who warned him against feeding it raw meat, lest it become savage again. So far as is known, this is the first instance of bears and lions interbreeding. —Stockton Record.

This cross, if accurately reported, would interfamilial (Felidae × Ursidae).

Pumas (Felis concolor), also known as mountain lions or cougars, come into potential breeding contact with bears over much of North America.

dog-cow hybrid A dog-cow hybrid?

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By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

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