Article: The Making of Golden Gate Park

From The Making of Golden Gate Park (pp 80-82) by Raymond H. Clary: The San Francisco Examiner, rising to the front of the newspaper competition in the city, referred to itself as "The Monarch of the Dailies." Since little had been done about the proposed Menagerie in the park, William Randolph Hearst determined to do something.

And so was created one of the most unusual jobs ever given to a newspaper reporter. In May 1889, Allan Kelly was summoned to Hearst's office where he was startled by the following 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 want 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 to catch his bear. He secured the services of a guide and three more men, a pack mule, and suitable horses. For six months the five men camped in the mountains, setting traps or cages built of stout logs, and baiting them with a quarter of a beef, It was a rough life.

At one point, climbing the side of a mountain on a narrow trail, they came upon a nest of rattlesnakes. The warnings of the snakes caused the pack mule to lose his balance and roll over and over down the mountain. He was unhurt and came scrambling back to the group, who hurriedly examined the pack to see if their snakebite medicine had been broken. It was not, and they each fortified themselves with some of it, just in case, and went on their way.

Finally one morning, their toils were rewarded. One of the traps held a huge grizzly. They had trapped him, but how would they get him out of the trap? They left him there for two days to calm down. Then they fashioned a noose from a chain and put it through the logs. When the bear stepped into the noose, four men hauled away on it. With one whip of. his paw, the bear jerked the chain from the hands of the four men and snarled.

Then they fashioned another noose and dropped it 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 front leg was caught and secured. Ropes were then fastened to his hind legs, and at long last the bear was spread-eagled on the ground. His captors offered him a stick, which he grabbed in his jaws. Finally, a rope was passed several times around the stick and his jaws.

The next morning the bear was lashed to a crude sled to be hauled down the mountain. It took four days to reach a road where a wagon could be used. Then a stout cage was made, and the bear was transferred to the cage. The cage was hoisted to the wagon, and the men made their way to Ventura and the railroad. There the bear was placed in a boxcar and shipped to San Francisco. jubilantly, Hearst called the park and said, "I have a grizzly bear for your Menagerie."

Austin 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 that had been prepared for him.

After the fair, an iron cage was built for Monarch behind what is now the Academy of Sciences. The bars were bent in at the top to keep the bear from climbing out, and Monarch seemed satisfied with the situation until someone donated an Alaskan moose to the park. Monarch immediately developed a fondness for moose meat and tried to climb out of his cage. Attendants armed with iron bars beat him back to the ground, and he was confined to a smaller cage until strong bars could be attached to the top of his cage. Monarch was the center of attention for many years. He is said to be the paternal ancestor to many of the bears now at the zoo. He died in 1911, and a taxidermist was hired to preserve his huge body, which was displayed at the Academy of Sciences for many years.