Celebrity bears have played a leading role in modern popular culture, from starring in television roles to blockbuster films and even professional wrestling.
The Great Bear of Burtonport
A large rogue male bear - the last on the Irish Republican mainland. A frequenter of the Rosses, this large, benign Bear has been known to appear on the local islands (Rutland, Almera, and Aranmor), indicative of a nascent ability to swim or being able to cough up the readies (cf "Ready Teddy"; Richard Penniman 1957) to go across on the Aranmor Ferry. It is rumored that at one time this denizen of Dungloe, this marauder of Maghery, may have been more aggressive. In a large local estate (cf "The Big Blue House"... TV and passim) there had been sounds of screaming although now all is quiet. He has been tamed and enjoys the odd Guinness in Skippers, Burtonport Co Donegal.
Bart the Bear
Was a male Alaskan Kodiak brown bear who appeared in several Hollywood films throughout his career.
Pipaluk Pipaluk was the first make polar bear born in captivity in Britain, and became a major celebrity at Regents Park Zoo in London during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In June 2006, a wild bear in Bavaria. The first brown bear spotted in Southern Germany for a century, Bruno became something of a celebrity inspiring songs, toys and an online game. However, when it became apparent Bruno had killed dozens of sheep and goats, Bavaria's Environment Ministry warned that Bruno posed a serious risk to public safety.
Bruno was shot dead hours after the Bavarian authorities approved a shoot-to-kill policy. His death prompted public out-cry, many questioned why a tranquilizer dart had not been used.
Scottish wrestling bear Hercules achieved world fame when in 1980 he went missing. He subsequently became a regular star of British children's television, and appeared in the James Bond film Octopussy.
His trainer, Andy Robin, used gentle giant Hercules in his act on the UK wrestling circuit in the late 1970s and early 1980s, regularly drawing audiences of 15 million viewers on ITV's World Of Sport program.
Brody the Bear
Born in January 1995, Brody made his first television appearance at the age of 12 weeks on Good Morning America. Brody has appeared in numerous films, television shows, commercials and print ads. He has also worked with some of the top Wildlife Photographers in the United States and has appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine in July 2001.
Brody and his owner Jeff Watson have appeared before over a million people throughout the United States for educational programs focusing on bears and safety while spending time in bear country hiking, camping, and fishing.
Knut was born at the Berlin Zoo to 20 year-old polar bear Tosca, a former circus performer from east Germany who was born in Canada, and her 13-year-old mate Lars, who was originally from the Tierpark Hellabrunn in Munich. Tosca rejected her cubs for unknown reasons, abandoning them on a rock in the polar bear compound. Being the size of a guinea pig, Knut spent the first 44 days of his life in an incubator before zoo keeper Thomas Dörflein began handraising the cub. Knut's need for around-the-clock care required that Dörflein sleep on a mattress next to Knut's night enclosure as well as play with, bathe, and feed him, beginning with a bottle of milk every two hours before graduating at the age of four months to a milk porridge mixed with cat food, vitamins and cod liver. Dörflein also accompanied Knut on his twice daily shows for the public and has appeared in many videos and photographs alongside the cub.
On 23 March 2007, Knut was presented to the public for the first time. Around 400 journalists visited Berlin Zoo on what was dubbed "Knut Day" to report on the cub's first public appearance to a worldwide audience. Despite Der Spiegel reporting on April 30, 2007 that Knut was "steadily getting less cute" as he increased in age, Knut continued to bring in record crowds to the zoo. There were 400,000 guests recorded in August of 2007, which was an all time high.
Knut first gained worldwide attention in part due to videos on Youtube that showed his life as a small cub. Since then, Knut has been the subject of several songs, the most successful of which were the singles "Knut is Cute" and "Knut, der kleine Eisbär" (English: “Knut, the little polar bear”) by 9-year-old Kitty from Köpenick. A blog with updates about the polar bear is also maintained by a journalist at the regional public broadcaster Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg; it is available in German, English and Spanish. Knut has also been the subject of several DVDs, including one entitled "Knut - Stories from a Polar Bear's Nursery." He also appeared on the March 29, 2007 cover of the German Vanity Fair magazine.