Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pipaluk - The Little One

When Pippa first found us on the streets of Spain, we had two other dogs - Paddy and Prince. Maybe that was the attraction for him, a nice pack with two well-cared for dogs.

But what to call him? A Spanish name as he was a Spanish dog? One beginning with P like the other two dogs? All we could think of was Pedro, Pepe or Paco, and he didn't look like any of those suited him.

Even back then he was bigger than the other two, and with such a pale creamy white face and chest. He looked like a big cuddly polar bear. Yeah I know polar bears aren't cuddly - unless they want to squeeze you to death I suppose.

I remembered the little polar bear cub that had been born at Regent's Park zoo, (London Zoo) in December 1967. Pipaluk, whose name was Eskimo (as was) meaning 'The Little One.'

Aw, a cute furry little creamy white bear, just like our new dog. Except that Pippa wasn't remotely little, but when Pipaluk grew up, he wouldn't exactly be little either. And I quite liked the irony of calling a large dog 'The Little One.'

So Pipaluk he became, and inevitably Pippa, or Pipps for short. Oddly, when the Spanish vet spells it, he writes it Pipa, which is probably a better abbreviation.

I don't remember seeing Pipaluk as a cute cub, but I must have done, because why else would I have the book? And I do have a photo of me at the zoo with my mother and my older cousin who lived in London at the time.

Sadly, the cute little bear whose birth spawned a book, lots of souvenirs, and cuddly toys, was ignominiously shipped off some 20 or so years later to Poland to die there. Forgotten about and no longer a superstar once his cuteness had expired.


  1. I was thinking Awww till I read to the end .... sort of a bitter sweet story. Though I loved it and always loved Pippa as a name it is so British lol I had a friend called Philipa which was shortened to Pip. :)

  2. I thought of you and Pippa over the weekend, because we were watching The Antiques Roadshow current series on BBC 1 (yes, we live exciting lives!)....and a lady brought in two Polar Bears soft toys. One was quite large and the other small. I was interested because I have similar one from childhood here at home. Turns out they were modelled on Ivy and Brumas, Polar Bears in London Zoo, around late Forties. Ivy gave birth to Brumas. Brumas so named after his two keepers, Bruce and Sam (backwards).

    After watching the programme I did a lot of googling and read about the craze for Polar Bear cubs in the 50s and 60s, bred in captivity in London Zoo. And of course Pippaluk was mentioned too, and the sad story of how he ended his days. I did remember you telling me how Pippa came to be named a while back of course.

    Sadly, as is always the way with me, my soft cuddly toy Polar Bear, was a Chad Valley, and not a Deans RagBook series of soft toy, so less valuable. But I wouldn't part with him ever, even though the straw is now oozing out of his paws.

    Sorry I didn't mean to make this comment all about me, just I had researched all this at the weekend, especially interested in the Pippaluk story.

    Very bittersweet. I dislike zoos.

    Jx And the name Pippa suits Pippa most beauteously!

  3. Ooo, finally we get to see the book! My sister and I both wanted to change our names to Pipaluk when we were young. Probably a good job that our parents said no :)

  4. Well I am with Bren, it was a real aww story until the end. I always think Pippa has such a cool and unusual name for a male dog.

    I must have a look at what actually happened to Pipaluk (then again it would upset me by the sound of it), I am not familiar with the story but am surprised at London Zoo, I have never been there myself but presumed it is and would always have been a good one.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.