Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Bear on a Unicycle

Pipko, the Siberian Pygmy Bear, had more talents than his ability to ride a unicycle, but that is how most people remember him. When he arrived in New London he was just a cub, and he didn't grow much bigger after that. His fame was another matter. When he exited this world, he was the sensation of his age, the most famous and admired bear on the globe. A poll by the New York Herald once showed that if Pipko had been human and born in this country he would have been elected president over Theodore Roosevelt himself. He died, aged 46, at his home on Maple Avenue in the Tootlesville section of New London.

As a cub, Pipko was considered a runt. The crew of the whaling schooner Cheerful Endeavor found him on a beach in Siberia while they were taking a sealing break from their hunt for sperm whales. The crew adopted Pipko and brought him back to their homeport. The crew drew lots to determine who would get to keep Pipko. Mr. John Beebe won the lottery, and Pipko went to live with Mr. Beebe and his mother at her house on 14 Maple Avenue.

From the start, it was determined that Pipko should be taught to ride a bicycle. Once he had mastered two wheels, he graduated to one. After that he never went back. A blacksmith was operating out of the basement of the Neptune Building. He was contracted to construct a special unicycle with a seat to fit Pipko's ursine hindquarters. Pipko spent hours circling the dirt track behind 14 Maple Avenue on his new unicycle. Crowds began to gather and the Beebe's erected a high fence so that people couldn't see Pipko practice without purchasing a ticket. be continued.

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