Bear wrestling

In a new article about the Morton photographs from the Fall 2007 issue of UNC Friends of the Library’s Windows Magazine, entitled “Capturing Seven Decades of Life in North Carolina,” author Ginger Travis compares processing the Morton collection to “wrestling a bear.” I find this particularly funny because for the past few days I have been sorting through images of—you guessed it—BEARS!

Black Bear cub at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Old Well, April 1972One set of negatives caught my attention early on—a series featuring an adorable black bear cub up to hijinks at various North Carolina landmarks (Biltmore, the State Capitol, the NC Botanical Gardens, Orton Plantation, etc.). Since these film rolls were cut up and scattered throughout the collection, with no identification, I was a bit mystified as to their context. Did Hugh Morton just toss a cub in the car and drive around the state so he could take pictures of it? If so, um. . . why?

Black Bear cub at the Bodie Island Lighthouse, NC, April 1972Then, the other day, I came across some of the bear cub negatives in an envelope labeled “Negatives–Zoo Trip with Little Bear–4-72,” in Morton’s hand. So, I’m guessing that Grandfather Mountain gave this bear cub to the North Carolina Zoo in April 1972, and these photos were taken on the (somewhat circuitous) trip to deposit him/her there. Can anyone confirm or deny that? Were the images used in some sort of promotional campaign?

Black Bear cub with stone lion at Biltmore House, Asheville, NC, April 1972