This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
All wild animals are fond of their mates and babies, and will fight for them. But there are few that are as brave and loving as the polar bears. Explorers and whalers tell stories that make the tears come to your eyes. In that lonely waste of frozen land and water, a polar bear family seems almost human in their close affection. In the winter the mother and cubs stay in the warm cave, but the father cannot sleep all winter long as the land bears do. He must go out into the Arctic night for food. He watches' seal and walrus holes as patiently as the Esquimo. He climbs icy cliffs. He is often carried out to sea on floating ice, and he swims back, miles and miles. In the summer the whole family hunt together. If one parent is killed the other will not desert the body. Neither will leave a dead or wounded cub, but will stand over it, lick the face and wound, pet it, coax it to get up, and will fight to the death rather than be driven away. They are terrible in their grief and rage.
There are three kinds of bears—land, water and honey bears. Of course all bears love honey, and will risk being stung on their tender noses to get it. But the honiest honey bear lives in the East Indies. In his Mowgli stories, Mr. Kipling has a honey bear that he calls Baloo. This animal is called the jungle bear because he sleeps in the shady jungle all day, and also the sloth, because he is so sleepy and moves about so slowly, and also the honey eater. He and the sun bear, who loves the sun as the jungle bear loves the shade, have long upper lips that look as if they had been stung by angry bees, and stretchy rubbery tongues. They can push this lip and tongue into an ant's nest and suck up a whole village with a greedy noise you can hear yards away. They eat bees and ants, ants' eggs, rice plants, fruits, honey and even flowers. In South America are numbers of honey bears. Some of them climb cocoanut trees and drink the milk of green nuts.
These are about all the animals you know as bears, but there are several cousins of the bears who are all clever. They are famous climbers, diggers, fighters and swimmers. The raccoon or 'coon, that Southern negroes love to hunt, is the plucky little tree-bear. He is only two feet long, but he will fight a dozen dogs and sometimes get away. Here is something funny about the 'coon. He likes his food wet, or clean, or something. When he finds something to eat he takes it to a brook and washes it. In Germany the. 'coon is called the washing bear. In a wild state the big bears do not seem to have this habit. But when the loaves of bread are brought to the pits in park zoos, all the bears roll it into the running water and soak it before eating it.
There is one thing bears are afraid of—guess! You never will. Mosquitoes.
Away up in Alaska where the biggest gold brown bear of all lives, and the glacier bear on the ice rivers, the summers are short and hot. There mosquitoes breed by millions on the vast swamps. The tip of a bear's nose is quite naked, moist and sensitive, like a dog's. He needs it that way for smelling. And, of course, his eyes have little protection. The mosquito swarms in clouds about poor Bruin and sting and sting him. He can fell a buffalo with one box of his big paw, but he cannot fight these little pests. He just turns tail and runs!
Long, long ago, the people in a far-away cold country called Finland had a beautiful story about the bear. They called him Otso. This story was put into verse like that of Hiawatha, and sung by mothers to put children to sleep :
Otso, thou, O forest lover, Bear of honey-paws and fur-robes, Learn that Waina Moinen follows, That the singer comes to meet thee; Hide thy claws within thy mittens, Let thy teeth remain in darkness, Mighty Otso, much beloved, Honey-eater of the mountains.
Isn't that a pretty song of Brother Bear? Maybe that's why you like to take Teddy Bear to bed with you. See Bear, with illustrations, page 185, Vol. I.