Object Record

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Title Polar Bear
Catalog Number SSM-2005/4-2
Description Full mount. Acquired prior to Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

Snowball was a 3-month-old , 25-pound female polar bear cub when she arrived in Springfield in 1951. Air Force Captain William McGeary had traded a box of fish hooks to an Inuit for the orphaned cub and soon, Snowball was on a flight from Labrador to Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. Forest Park superintendent Theodor Geisel gladly accepted the cub and Snowball soon became a permanent fixture at the Forest Park Zoo.

Snowball was a popular attraction at the Zoo but her presence also was controversial, especially when she would languish in the summer heat. Then, in 1972, she made headlines when she attacked a teenage girl who had climbed a fence and stuck her arm into the cage. A policeman shot the polar bear in order to free the girl. Snowball survived but lost an eye during the incident.

Snowball died seven years later at the age of 29 and was donated to the Science Museum. Thanks to a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. H. Philip Chapman, Jr., she was mounted in 1980 by expert taxidermist and former Science Museum Director Glen P. Ives.


From the "Sunday Republican," June 16, 2013:

Snowball was a polar bear who grew up in the Forest Park Zoo after being rescued as a cub in 1951. At the time, the park superintendent was Theodor Geisel, the father of the famous children's author, Dr. Seuss. Snowball immediately became a popular attraction, as visitors took a special interest in watching the little white cub grow from 25 pounds to a 600-pound adult. She now stands guard outside the Museum Store near the stairway to the museum's Exploration Center, a testament to the expert taxidermy work by former Science Museum director Glen Ives. Ives chose the standing pose as it is a natural position polar bears assume when they are on ice floes searching for seals.
Object Name Bear, Polar
Credit line Gift of Forest Park Zoo, Springfield, MA
On Exhibit Yes, Elevator Lobby, First Floor