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Amherst bear, meet the bear from the USS Buffalo

Sure, bears can roam around the suburbs, as Northtowns residents recently learned to their delight/horror.

But did you know they used to run off and join the Navy?

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it seems, sailors often brought along dogs, cats and more exotic animals for companionship and to boost morale, according to the U.S. Naval Institute and the Steel Navy blog. The mascots included a pig, a kangaroo and bears – and of course there's a Buffalo connection.

The USS Buffalo at Mare Island, Calif., loading materials for its expedition to Alaska radio stations in 1914. (Photo courtesy U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)


The second of three United States ships to carry the name Buffalo kept a bear named "Teddy" – after former President Theodore Roosevelt – during its 1914 expedition to Alaska to upgrade and repair radio stations there. (It's too late now, but they should have brought a buffalo, right?)

A photo from the trip shows a young bear, possibly an Alaskan bear cub, with a stern expression sitting on the ship's forecastle on a leash held by a sailor.

No word on what happened to Teddy. We can only hope he didn't end up as a rug in the captain's quarters.

From 'Talking Proud' to the scrapyard: USS Buffalo ends its service

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