National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice: A Publication of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Volume 11 (2015)


Copyright © 2015 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


On a late Sunday afternoon in 1934, a park superintendent entered the cage of two black bears that he tended at the park’s zoo. His intent was to retrieve a purse dropped by a zoo visitor. The superintendent knew the bears well, having acquired them as cubs and raised them, and he didn’t expect any trouble. But trouble was imminent. “ENTERED CAGE TO GET PURSE, ENRAGED MALE CHARGED HIM,” the Mankato Free Press headline would read the next day (1). The story would go on to describe an unforeseen bear mauling, a series of futile rescue attempts, and an untimely death. Nearly five hundred people would turn out for the superintendent’s service that week, congregating at the local Methodist church to mourn a loss felt by both his family and the larger community.