“As we are looking around at birds and foxes and so on, I notice a picture of the polar bear from the Nanoq in Kringlan mall,” says Friðrik, referencing the outdoor sporting goods store that opened in 1999 but went bankrupt in 2002. At the time, the polar bear was one of the mall’s main landmarks along with a 49 feet tall, fully functioning climbing wall.
“I asked Manuel if the polar bear was his work. He said yes so, I asked where he was now but he didn’t know,” Friðrik says. “I can’t remember how I found him but I finally learned that he was holed up in a warehouse owned by Baugur Group, the investment company behind Nanoq.”
He contacted one of the company’s directors, Finnur Árnason, who said the bear was not for sale but Friðrik wouldn’t budge. He had made up his mind so he pleaded with the director to at least let him borrow the bear.
“Finnur asks me if I even realize how big it is. I reply that of course I know he is quite big but I end up going to the warehouse to see him in the flesh,” Friðrik says. “I’ll admit, his height was a bit of a shock, but I got to measure him and took the measurements back to Hotel Rangá.”
This was before the west end of the hotel, where Hrammur now lives, was built. According to Friðrik’s measurements, he would just barely get into the foyer where the Iceland Quilt now hangs, and he would almost touch the ceiling.
“So, I went back to Finnur and said: I have to have him.”
In the end, Friðrik got his wish. The bear arrived in a large moving truck and even though the staff had to remove a ceiling light to get him in, Hrammur found his new home at Hotel Rangá. But of course, he wasn’t named Hrammur then – in fact, he didn’t have a name at all.
Hotel Rangá decided to get the local children involved and invited them to partake in a naming competition.
“There were dozens of excellent suggestions and one girl suggested Hrammur,” Friðrik says. “There was a very distinguished panel of judges and we invited all the kids to come to celebrate with us.”
Hrammur means “paw” in Icelandic, and today Hrammur stands with his two front paws and huge grin in a new part of Hotel Rangá’s lobby, specifically designed for his 13 feet stature. He’s happy to be photographed and especially enjoys selfies. If you share any on social media, remember to use the hashtags #Hrammur and #HotelRanga so he can add them to his own collection