MONARCH THE GRIZZLY BEAR
In 1889, Allan Kelly, a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, was summoned to the office of William Randolph Hearst where he was asked the question "Do you think you could get me a California grizzly bear?" Kelly replied, "I think I could get a bear if I tried. Do you what him dead or alive?" The reply: "Alive."
Kelly left immediately for Southern California and went to the Ojai Valley in Ventura County near Santa Paula. He secured the services of a guide, three other men, a pack mule, and suitable horses. For six months the five men camped in the mountains, setting traps and cages built of logs, and baited with quarters of beef.
Finally their efforts were rewarded and one of the traps held a
huge grizzly. They waited two days for the bear to calm down and then fashioned a
noose from chain and put it through the logs. When the bear stepped into the noose,
four men hauled away but with one whip of his paw, the bear jerked the chain from
the men and snarled. Next another noose was fashioned and dropped through the top
of the cage. When the bear stepped in it, the chain was jerked up to his shoulder
and after several hours of struggle, it was secured to the cage. Then the other legs
were snared and finally the bear was spread eagled on the ground. Finally he was
offered a stick which he grabbed in his jaws and a rope was passed several times
around the stick and jaws. Fashioning a skid, it took fours days to pull the bear
down to a road. There another cage was constructed and the now caged bear was placed
on a wagon and transported to the railway in Ventura where he was placed in a box
car and shipped to San Francisco.
A jubilant Hearst called the park and said " I have a grizzly bear for your Menagerie." Park staff replied "We don’t want him" so Monarch, as the bear was named, was taken to Woodward’s Gardens to be placed on display. When the Midwinter Fair came to San Francisco in 1894, Monarch was at last brought to Golden Gate Park and lowered into a huge concrete pit prepared for him.
After the Fair, an iron cage was built for Monarch at the top of the hill between what is now the Aids Grove and handball courts. The bars were bent in at the top to keep the bear from climbing out and Monarch seem satisfied with the situation until someone donated an Alaskan moose to the Park. Monarch immediately developed a fondness for moose meat and attendants had to use iron bars to keep him from climbing out. He was placed in a smaller cage until the cage could be reinforced.
After a few years, Monarch showed signs of loneliness and it was
feared he might die. Again Hearst stepped in and purchased a female silver tip grizzly
from Idaho. When the female arrived in 1903, Monarch immediately showed his interest.
The female was placed in an adjoining cage and Monarch plowed the ground until he’d
dug a trench big enough for two bears his size but without attracting any attention
from the female, he proceeded to lie down in the hole and gaze longingly though the
bars. The female was in new mood for his antics and even vented her displeasure on
a photographer who was trying to conduct an interview. The next day, the two bears
were put in the same cage and they romped and played together for over an hour, but
finally the female decided Monarch was getting too familiar and she reared up on
her hind legs and boxed his ears.
Animal courtship being what it is, Monarch finally established a relationship and his descendents can be found at the zoo.
Upon his death in 1911, he was stuffed and stands now in the California Academy of Science not far from where he was caged. The Bear Cage remained in the park until the late 20’s when an adventurous boy climbed the fence and was attacked by a bear and blinded. The city paid $6,000 to the child and today the bear cage is just a memory. Monarch was named for the San Francisco Examiner, "The Monarch of the Dailies." His stuffed remains served as model for the bear on our state flag