Wanted! Otto Photos
The oldest photo we received was taken in May 1955.
"My buddy and I had driven to Fairbanks and from there jumped on the train down to Garner Camp (just north of what was then known as McKinley National Park), where we went to work on a track crew. We had one day in Fairbanks and visited the museum. Otto proved to be an appropriate introduction to all the amazing things we saw and experienced in that wild land. I am to the left in the picture; other persons unknown."
The most fascinating story
In September, an email from Russ Whitcomb showed up in the museum's inbox. He included two photos and a compelling story about the relationship that can develop between specimens in a museum and the people who see them.
“In late August my wife and I returned home to Montana after a summer visit to your great state. While there we visited the museum where I saw Otto and that you were interested in old photos. I have a short story and a couple of photos I’d like to share with you.
“During the summer of 1960 my grandparents took me on a trip over the Alcan to Alaska. We visited the Fairbanks museum and saw Otto for the first time.
While I don’t recall the name Otto, I am pretty certain it was the same bear due in part to his markings. In particular, the small white diamond shaped spot on his chest.
I regret not having an actual photo from that trip, I do have a postcard of the great bear that we bought in the gift shop.
“In 2005 I returned with my wife and some friends to Alaska and again visited the museum.
Imagine my surprise when I once again saw the bear.
He had made an impression on me in 1960, even though I was only 10 years old.
This time I do have a photo of me next to Otto. I was certain this was the same bear.
So now I have had the great privilege to visit the museum and view this regal animal not once, not twice, but three times over a 52-year spread. I call that remarkable, don’t you?”
Yes, Russ. We do.
Other Interesting Submissions
This photo (left) delighted us because the two-year-old being held aloft by his uncle is now finishing a master’s program in fisheries at UAF. It was taken in the summer of 1980.
Photos came in from all over the world, including the one below that was sent in after a reader saw a photo of Otto in her local Arizona paper.
"My husband and I visited the UA Museum of the North in June, and we had a fabulous time. What a wonderful museum! I thought Otto was the best, so Mike took a picture of me with him.
"I’m attaching it to this email, because I saw an article in our paper (The Arizona Daily Star) about your gathering of pictures. I’m happy to be included in anything you do with photos of Otto’s friends. Count me in!"
Thanks to everyone who sent in photos of Otto. There were funny ones, serious ones, and creative ones. Now they're all a part of this exceptional specimen's story.