'Bruin' – Dundee, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

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This monument depicts a harrowing event involving an escaped polar bear. 


The maritime city of Dundee has its fair share of statues depicting its illustrious character. These metal monuments often pay homage to historical figures such as Queen Victoria and Robert Burns in front of the McManus Art Gallery and Museum. There are also fictitious renderings of the city’s illustrative output, like the Lemmings Statue and various characters from the Beano Comics. But it is the statue of a polar bear chasing a terrified man on High Street that might raise a few eyebrows and double-takes. 

Erected in 2021, this sculpture by artist David Annand and commissioned by the Dundee City Council commemorates an event that took place in the nearby vicinity in November 1878. As the story goes, a rather large polar bear escaped his handlers and caused havoc for several hours before being gently apprehended. 

This particular arctic animal was named “Bruin,” an English folk term for brown bear. He was one of two that were in an exhibition taking place nearby.

At the time, a local newspaper reported that the bear wandered the streets causing great excitement and chaos. It followed a woman into a local clothing retailer, where it became enamored by its own reflection in a mirror. Here, the bear was subdued by a rope and was led away.

Annand depicts this incredulous, but true, event with two figures running up a block of ice. This award-winning artist is also responsible for the statue of Mary, Queen of Scots in front of Linlithgow Palace and Hamish McHamish in St. Andrews. 

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