John (Grizzly) Adams was born in Massachusetts in 1812. After working as a shoemaker he became a hunter in the forests of New England. Later he returned to his original profession.

On 24th January, 1848, James Marshall, discovered gold on land owned by John Sutter in California. By 1849 over 100,000 people had joined the Californian Gold Rush. This included Adams but after failing to make his fortune he went into the Sierra Nevada mountains to trap beavers for furs. Adams also began catching and training bears. These were then sold to zoos and private collectors.

Adams, who was always dressed in buckskin, became a well-known figure in America. He took his bears to New York City and later became involved in Phineas T. Barnum's American Museum.

John (Grizzly) Adams died on 25th October 1860.