While Bowdoin today would never condone the hunting of a polar bear to stuff and mount, the story of how Bowdoin acquired its first polar bear is an interesting tale of College pride, ambition, setback and success.
In the video, Genevieve LeMoine, the curator/registrar for Bowdoin’s Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center, talks about the adoption of the polar bear as a mascot in 1913, and explains the origins of the Bowdoin Bear — that ambling creature in the Buck Center trophy case. Her blog post also provides more details.
Now 100 years old, the polar bear mascot remains an important symbol for the college, perhaps now more than ever. “Bears in general have always had a strong mythical image among Western people and among people anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Bears are strong, but have these human-like characteristics so they’re easy to identify with as powerful figures,” LeMoine said. “Today, of course, with the polar bear being at risk because of global warming, it links very nicely with Bowdoin’s concern with environmentalism and being green.”