Bear! Espèces d’ours!
After being charged by an adult male grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park and shouting « Bear! » John and Lisa (read the Yellowstone press release here and listen to John tell the story here) were amused to return to Paris to find an exhibition entitled The World of Bears or Espèces d’ours! at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle. So they trotted right over to see what the museum had to say about bears.
It turns out there are 8 species of bears in the world. The grizzly bear John and Lisa encountered, called Ursus arctos horribilis in scientific nomenclature, is a subspecies of the brown bear. It is also less commonly known as the silvertip bear. Scientists generally do not use the name grizzly bear but call it the North American brown bear to distinguish it from the European or Asian brown bear. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark called it « grisley ». They were notoriously bad spellers and perhaps meant grizzly in reference to lighter tips on its hairs or grisly* meaning fear-inspiring. Nonetheless, after careful study, naturalist George Ord formally classified it in 1815 – not for its hair, but for its character – as Ursus horribilis (« terrifying bear »). The griz is well-named as John and Lisa can testify. They were thankfully carrying two powerful cans of potent pepper spray known locally as bear spray and it worked!
At the Paris exhibition the first thing John and Lisa did was take a good hard look at the naturalized brown bear on display. It was a opportunity to look carefully at the creature which was rather a blur during the attack which lasted hardly 30 seconds. The naturalized bear was certainly still and they could peer at his eyes and claws which are as long as an adult human’s fingers. There were 7 other naturalized bears on display showing all 8 species. The exhibit had interesting scientific displays of bear leg bones that show how they can run fast and stand upright. One stand allowed you to compare the heartbeat of an active bear versus a hibernating bear – only 8 beats per minute! There was a video that showed you how a bear’s eyes see the world. And plenty of other video footage of bears eating, running, fishing, climbing and birthing. There are still traces of this expo…
Can you find the 11 permanent bears in the Jardin des Plantes?
Speak Easy puzzle: Grin and bear it!
Enjoy this Speak Easy puzzle of expressions in English with the words BEAR in them. The word Bear refers not to just the animal, it is also a verb meaning to carry a weight (to bear, past tense bore). Then there is the homonym bare an adjective or verb for being naked. See if you can match the English expressions up with their French equivalent. It’s a fun way to learn French and some new idiomatic expressions to enrich your vocabulary.
This Speak Easy puzzle comes from volume 1 of a series of three books of 48 puzzles available on : https://store.fusac.fr or at the FUSAC Book Room (a new place you just have to discover!) 42, rue du Chemin Vert, Boulogne, M° Porte de Saint Cloud
- Grizzly is a large North American species of bear also known as a silvertip bear. French = Grizzli
- Grisly means disgusting and bloody, absolutely repulsive and horrible. French = Macabre, épouvantable.
- Gristly means rubbery or full of cartilage. French = cartilagineux.
- Grizzled means silvery and is frequently used to describe a man’s hair. French = grisonant
And a pun:
One hunter asked another: Do you always hunt bear (bare)? He replied not when it’s cold out.