Little Bear Bongo

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"Little Bear Bongo"
AuthorSinclair Lewis
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Children's literature
Published inCosmopolitan
Publication typePeriodical
Publication dateSeptember 1930

"Little Bear Bongo" is a children's story written by Sinclair Lewis. The story was first published in the September 1930 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, with illustrations by José Segrelles.[1]


Bongo, a bear trained to do acrobatics and other tricks mimicking humans, is content with his life as the star and main breadwinner of a circus teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. However, when the circus train attempts a journey through the Rocky Mountains, an accident results in Bongo's cage being jarred loose. Terrified by the noises, Bongo flees into the wilderness, and eventually comes across a clearing inhabited by many wild bears.

For the next year, Bongo attempts to befriend the wild bears, who find his "civilized" behavior annoying and continuously shun him. Though he eventually learns how to hunt for wild animals and fight in self-defense, Bongo is still too pacifistic to attract any approval from the wild bears, and his attempts to find a mate in the she-bear Silver Ear fail dismally. After his first hibernation, Bongo discovers that Silver Ear has chosen a surly, violent he-bear named Lump Jaw for her mate.

A brokenhearted Bongo leaves the community of wild bears and travels west, where he eventually comes across the town of Conquistadore. Conquistadore is hosting another circus, which immediately attracts Bongo; heedless of the citizens' panic, he rushes into the big top and prostrates himself before the ringmaster. Realizing that Bongo must be an already-trained bear, the circus accepts him, and the story concludes with Bongo once again in the lap of luxury, with the circus's other bear – a similarly "civilized" and pacifistic female – as his new mate.


The story was acquired by Walt Disney Productions in 1940 for a possible feature film. World War II sidetracked those plans until 1947. Disney adapted the story as part of its feature Fun and Fancy Free and is narrated by Dinah Shore.


  1. ^ "Contents list". Hearst’s International combined with Cosmopolitan, September 1930. The FictionMags Index. Retrieved 2013-12-29. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

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