A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

[gallery size="full" columns="1" link="none" ids="136812,136809,136794,136810,136808,136795,136796,136811"] Folks, look at this cute. Little. Bear cub. There he is in Asheville at the Biltmore Estate! Ooh, that’s him at the Old Well in

Madison County Championship Rodeo

[gallery size="full" columns="1" link="none" ids="136812,136809,136794,136810,136808,136795,136796,136811"] Folks, look at this cute. Little. Bear cub. There he is in Asheville at the Biltmore Estate! Ooh, that’s him at the Old Well in

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

[gallery size="full" columns="1" link="none" ids="136812,136809,136794,136810,136808,136795,136796,136811"] Folks, look at this cute. Little. Bear cub. There he is in Asheville at the Biltmore Estate! Ooh, that’s him at the Old Well in

Cute Cub Alert!

Folks, look at this cute. Little. Bear cub. There he is in Asheville at the Biltmore Estate! Ooh, that’s him at the Old Well in Chapel Hill! Say, is that a lighthouse behind him? Yup!

Wouldn’t you like to see more of this bear? Wouldn’t you like to know his story? If so, then you’ve already figured out that bear cub advertising works.

The little cub in these pictures was 10 weeks old when legendary photographer and Grandfather Mountain proprietor Hugh Morton took him on the road. In April and May of 1972, the cub appeared in 28 programs on 16 television stations and was photographed being adorable in front of landmarks across the state. It was all part of a bond campaign to raise money to create the North Carolina Zoo. The strategy worked.

A contest to name the bear followed a few months later, promising mountain honey to the winner. Hobo was selected (other entries included Heffalump, Butchy Poo, and General Grant). After his big tour, Hobo went to live with other bears at Grandfather. He was a cute bear, but a bear nonetheless, and he sometimes got into tussles with his handlers. He lived for 17 years, until 1989, and was the first bear to be buried next to the picnic area.

But he’s still mostly remembered for being a cub. “If I win the honey,” a girl from Mooresville wrote in her entry, “please keep it and give it to the little bear for a treat.”

This story was published on Mar 30, 2021

Jeremy Markovich

Jeremy Markovich

Jeremy Markovich is a writer and the host of Our State's podcast, Away Message. He lives in Oak Ridge.