Louis - Ursus Viator Japonicus
Traveling Japanese Bear
Louis caught down in the Lower East Side
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irst spotted in 1820 by a British Missionary, in Japan. It quickly became an extremely popular pet in the United States, when a national craze for all things Japanese was sparked by the London Exposition in 1851 and later the Chicago Worlds fair in 1885. In truth, these bears originated not from Japan, but from an area outside of the city of Makassar (Ujan Pandang) on the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes) Indonesia.

These bears probably developed their reputation as Travelers from their history aboard Bugis· Prau Pinnisi. The Bugis people were recognized as extremely talented sailors and traded in every port in the South Pacific, including Australia. Later the British would slander the Bugis name in an attempt to weaken their control on the extremely lucrative spice trade. (This is where the term ·Boogeyman· originated.)

Like the Bugis people, these Travelers were able to wander widely, and with the advent of Steam ships globally. It is also believed that Travelers make one final return trip to die in a communal burying ground.

Weighing anywhere from ten to twenty pounds and growing no more than two feet high, the Travelers were popular as semi-domesticated pets. {To make the distinction: Travelers could never be caged or restricted and few attempted such. Instead it was understood by families that adopted Travelers that the Bears would eventually move on.} The male had dark brown fur while the female had a dense tan coat. Both are recognized easily by a distinctive pattern on their bellies.

They had a simple diet of grasses, preferably clover, honey and water and could last weeks on a single feeding. During long trips, the Travelers would at times gorge on food and sleep for days.

Louis died in 1978 on the Hamptons estate of D.F. Brookes, A semi-well known mechanical pen tycoon. ·Louie began to show signs that he was leaving,· remembers D.F. Brookes, ·but there was a beach party the following week and I knew how much it would mean to him to be a part of the fun. He never got out of the house·· Although, Louis did not succeed in returning to his native land, friend·s thought he belonged in the Hamptons now. He was stuffed and still resides on the Brookes estate.

The status of the species of Travelers is unknown today. Their exact demise is uncertain. Although never hunted for skins, a reproduction of their print is still very popular today as a status symbol honoring one of nature·s good time bears.

To find out more information about subjects related to Louis please follow the links below:

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