One of my favorite spots to hang out in Paris is the jardin des plantes. The beautiful long expanse of flowers and plants, the museums on two sides and the quaint zoo on the other, make it the perfect combination of something to do and somewhere to rest.
The ever beautiful mosque of Paris is close by, as is a McDonald’s. Hey, sometimes a nice soda or coffee, that you can take into the park, is welcome. Most restaurants don’t serve you a coffee in a “to go” container in Paris. You can also park your rental bike right in front of the McDonald’s.
I’ve always loved the very quirky nature of Parisian statues. But the one that has intrigued me most over the years is the one called “The Bear Cub Hunter.” I didn’t even know “bear cub” hunting was an occupation. It appears to be something you do in a state of near nudity. Besides the violent nature of the statue, the location was also something I rather enjoy.
As you can see the statue is right in front of a children’s playground. It should be noted that the children’s playground has since become a picnic area. You can now view the statue while seated and eating your meal. When I was last there, small children were having their lunch. The children this time weren’t even running around and perhaps just glancing at the statue. They children were all seating looking at the statue while sipping their juice boxes.
As you can see, the bear cub is nothing but a corpse. The mother bear is objecting, and appears to be ready to bite the head off the hunter. The hunter has stabbed the bear, so that the statue depicts death and imminent death in all its glory.
The young children get a life lesson while on the playground: life sucks. Now get over it and share the bouncy riding toy with your sister.
I found out this statue was the work of Emmanuel Fremiet. He did the famous statue of Joan of Arc, known as the Iron Maiden, but he also did a lot of sculptures of animals. Usually animals and humans treating each other badly. PETA would not be a fan. Many of his sculptures are an insult not only to the squeamish, but to biologists as well. His depiction of animals and nature was one of man versus the beasts. It is a very 19th century, not 20th and 21st century, view of animals. This was before Jane Goodall and other animal behaviorists came around to change our view of animals as dangerous beasts needing to be mastered.
Still, this statue must have been quite the thing, for not far from the finished version is a statue of Fremiet, sculpting this statue! That’s right not just one, but two “The Bear Cub Hunter”.
I decided to visit this small museum located near the zoo. You can imagine my joy to find yet more “The Bear Cub Hunter”. That’s right, they have a small version. It was a quiet day, and I was the only visitor as far as I could tell. The museum seemed to be having some display about the history of the giraffe, which I’m sorry to say was pretty poorly done. Thank goodness I had found mini bear cub, as the price to get in was not worth the giraffe exhibit within.
So a statue worth doing three times, and all still on display. I found works by the artist on sale, bronzes of (what else) animals. I’m thinking of saving up for one of his rather pleasant cat bronzes, though it would be tempting to have my own personal copy of “The Bear Cub Hunter” to keep me up at night.
- Look out, polar ladies, there’s a new bear in town (dispatch.com)
- Shepherd dog adopts three tiger cubs at Russian zoo – video (digitalspy.co.uk)