Hi, my name is Brutus The Bear. I was born at an overcrowded wildlife park in 2002, where my future was uncertain. My future human parents adopted me at an early age; I was about the size of a squirrel. Currently I am about seven feet tall on my hind legs and close to nine hundred pounds in weight.
Casey and Ami raised me and could see right away that I was special. I enjoyed a lot of attention and loved to be in front of a camera. This has led me to be in many educational videos on bear safety. I have also had small parts in two movies, Iron Ridge and Pretty Ugly People. I am best known for co-hosting Expedition Wild with Casey Anderson.
I spend most of my days as an ambassador for my wild cousins; educating visitors from all around the world about bear safety and conservation.
My hobbies are rough housing with Sheena, swimming in my ponds, foraging for treats, breaking stuff, and hamming it up for the visitors.
My favorite dinner is a large elk and avocado salad with huckleberry ice cream for desert!
Hi, my name is Sheena. I was born in captivity in 1986 with my twin sister Christi. We were sold at an exotic animal auction when we were cubs. We were purchased by private owners in Texas that had big plans for us, unfortunately those plans fell threw. Christi and I ended up spending fifteen years living in a six by four foot cage together. I remained in that cage for an additional three years alone. Christi spent those three years in a small enclosed cargo trailer.
When we were eighteen years old authorities stepped in and informed our owners to euthanize us or find us a new home immediately. USDA contacted Montana Grizzly Encounter to see if they could be our home forever. MGE dropped what they were doing and put together a rescue team and headed to Texas.
Once we arrived at MGE we were introduced to our new large indoor dens. It took Christi and I about a week to adjust to having so much space. When we were comfortable with our indoor dens, we were introduced to our outdoor habitat. We both found it exciting yet intimidating, it took us some time to acclimate ourselves to such a large open space. It was the first time that we could just be bears, to run and play, and even swim in a pond and all this at eighteen years old.
Christi passed away from leukemia in September of 2009. She was a special girl and is missed very much.
My hobbies include sleeping in, cuddling with all of my soft blankets, keeping Brutus in line, playing and soaking in my pond.
My favorite meal would have to be chicken with oranges and grapes, and yogurt for desert.
Hi, we are Jake and Maggi. We were born at a wildlife park in Georgia in 2006 but were unable to stay there. Wildlife Safari in Oregon came to our rescue when we were six months old. Wildlife Safari hoped to raise some funding to make us our own enclosure, because of our age we couldn’t be in the adult bear enclosure. After a year and a half, the funding just wasn’t there and they contacted Montana Grizzly Encounter. We arrived at MGE December 24th 2008 (we were two years old). We loved our new dens, however we had never seen snow before and were quite scared of it. After two months of being offered to go outside to play daily we finally gave it a try.. We loved it! Even the snow was a blast to play in.
Now we spend our time playing and educating people from all over the world about bear safety and conservation.
Maggi loves to run, swim and throw things. She even taught herself how to make a snowball and throw it! She has hit a few visitors in the viewing area with her snowballs!!
Jake enjoys playing in the pond, laying in the grass sunning himself and of coarse playing with Maggi.
Favorite foods include elk, carrots, grapes, avocado, dried fruit, trail mix and ice cream.
Three years ago, a little miracle happened in a remote underground den in the wilderness of Alaska. The details of that miracle will never be known, but what happened over the next three years will never be forgotten.
A little female brown bear cub was born, just like thousands of cubs are born every winter. She nuzzled her mother for a few months in a small dark den with only a glimmer of light. Her mother supplied everything to her; nourishment, warmth, and security. The only world the little girl knew was her giant mama bear and her dark den. Little did she know that her world was tiny in comparison to her new life that the future would hold.
Imagine the sensory overload a cub must have when she emerges into the vast wild wilderness for the first time. The countless sights, sounds, and smells that baby bears will face in that moment must be overwhelming. The cub clings closely to her mother, for there is no wiser, tougher, and more determined creature than a mother bear. These first couple years the cub will learn everything it needs to survive and live it’s next twenty or more years of it’s life. But in the first couple years, her and her mother will face this beautiful world together, embracing the untamed, and going nose to nose with the unpredictable, ’tis a grizzly bear’s life. Sadly, without the guidance and protection that a mother bear provides, a baby bear cub’s future in the wild is nonexistent. There is simply no way that the baby bear can survive. This is the way of the wild.
As the winter months melt away, the promise of spring, sun, and new life begin surrounding their den. By May, the cubs that were once the size of a Twinkie are now the size of a loaf of bread, and they emerge into the big wild world with wide eyes full of wonder. Mother bear’s job begins, protecting her cubs while teaching them all that she knows. This is the most critical time. She is teaching the babies the dangers of the world, all while trying to find food and nourishment to gain back the weight that she has lost over the winter. As she scavenges to find the areas where the green grass first pops up from the earth the babies scamper around her, wrestling and biting, but also observing their mother. As she searches a stream for the potential of salmon, the babies splash and mimic her from the safety of the shallower waters. Some day, these little bears will use all of the knowledge gained from this time spent observing her in order to survive the wild on their own.
Fast forward a few weeks. Little Lucy bear has been separated from her mother, and finds herself in a scary new world – in the middle of the town of Angoon, Alaska. No one is sure what happened to the mother bear, but it quickly becomes clear to the humans who find her that baby Lucy is alone in the world. Locals from the area rescued her and contacted Fortress of the Bear in Sitka, Alaska – but not without a fight. One of the first lessons that Lucy was taught in the wild as a cub was to fear humans. Lucy held her own, a fierce and snarling five pound ball of fluff, skin & bones with the fight of a bear twice her size, undoubtedly a spirit that she inherited from her mother. This vigorous spunk is surely the reason she survived for as long as she did – long enough to find her way into the arms of a man named Les.
Les Kinnear is the founder of FOB, a bear rescue facility in Sitka. With a voice that booms like the roar of a grizzly, and a beard that is definitely bearish in nature – the baby bear, who Les dubbed “Pandora,” grew to love him as her new protector. Les loved her wholly, but also knew that with FOB full to capacity, he would not be able to provide the baby bear with everything that she would need in order to live a fulfilling life. With a heavy heart and beautiful intentions, Les contacted Montana Grizzly Encounter.
It was an average spring day at MGE, Brutus digging holes in the yard and enjoying the freshness of the breeze, the sun shining down on his back. Ami, Billy, & team were going about their daily chores – food prep, cleaning dens, teaching visitors at the park about the beauty of the grizzly bear – when the phone rang. It was a call that would touch the hearts of many, humans and bears alike, in the sweetest of ways. It did not take long for Montana Grizzly Encounter to consider the opportunity to rescue a five month old Alaskan brown bear – and decide that it was feasible. The team at Montana Grizzly Encounter knew that they would not be able to carry out this rescue entirely on their own, so they recruited the help of some wonderful friends and volunteers, and the wheels were set into motion.
If Brutus and the other bears knew that their lives were about to be changed, they did not show it. Brutus, Sheena, Jake, and Maggie continued to swim in the pond, enjoy the approaching summer sun, and play in the yard as Ami, with the determination of a mother bear, scrambled to come up with a game plan. There were many factors to consider. This baby bear would need to have a den built for her, specialized to suit the needs of such a tiny bear. Construction began immediately, and her den was equipped with a live den cam so that people would be able to watch Lucy grow via the Montana Grizzly Encounter website. She would also need a well balanced diet in order for her to gain the weight that she had not gained in the time she was separated from her mother. Gaining permits and licensing in obtaining a wild brown bear are also not extremely easy, but through many phone calls and emails, the necessary licenses were obtained. Casey contacted a dear friend of his who was involved in a non-profit group called LightHawk, a nonprofit group in which volunteer pilots donate their time and private aircraft in order to transport animals for conservation. Joy Covey & her son Tyler, who had helped Casey in the past, immediately agreed to donate their time, money, and energy in order to pick the baby bear up and bring her safely back to Montana. With all of these affairs in order, Ami and Casey headed off to Sitka to meet the baby girl for the first time.
With her own private jet and a film crew following her journey, Lucy ventured from Sitka to Bozeman, Ami sitting by her side the entire way. She was welcomed into the Montana Grizzly Encounter family warmly, and so began her life with her new human family – Ami, Billy, and Judy. From the other side of her den’s wall, Brutus sniffed the air curiously and excitedly. A new little lady friend had arrived, and the friendship that would unfold was priceless.
With unbelievable love and patience from her new mom & dad, Ami and Billy, Lucy continued to grow not only in size, but in the hearts of those who cared for her. The countless people who watched her via webcam, who visited her at her new home in Montana, and those who knew her only through her Facebook, her appearances on television and an xbox video game. Lucy touched the lives of many, both bears and humans. In her years at Montana Grizzly Encounter, she was the perfect addition to the family. In the beginning, there were many bites and bruises (Billy can still show you the scars), as she brought her Alaskan wild spirit back to Bozeman. Ami and team endured the ups and downs and gave their all to provide a loving and devoted home for their little Lucy. Despite her untamed ways, Lucy bonded strongly with her new human family.
One day at the end of March, when Lucy was finally big enough to hold her own, she met the love of her life. The team decided that it was time for Lucy and Brutus to meet for the first time. In the wild, little brown bear cubs are supposed to fear big brown bear boars. Adult brown bear males, by nature, are designed to have the instinct to eliminate brown bear cubs in order to mate with the sow. On paper, this meeting had the potential of being very dangerous. However, team MGE decided to go forth with setting them up on a blind date. Holding their breath, bear spray on hand and ready for the worst, the Montana Grizzly Encounter family stood by as they allowed Lucy to join Brutus out in the yard for the very first time. What they witnessed was unthinkable. Everything known of bear biology was put aside that day by both bears in the name of love and friendship. For months they had known each other only by the scent and slight glimpses as one passed the other’s den on their way in from the sanctuary. Now, they found themselves face to face outside of their dens. After a few moments of apprehension, and an attempted getaway by Lucy, Brutus and Lucy reared up in what appeared to be a possible fight – and embraced in a giant bear hug. It was truly love at first sight. They chased, ran, leapt in joy. Coyly, like a teenaged boy, Brutus lured Lucy to the side of the pond on the pretense that he had discovered something wonderful. Lucy, curiously, could not contain herself.. and when she approached the edge to see what he had found – he lunged to pull her into the water beside him. After hours of playing, as the sun began to set, Lucy and Brutus exhaustedly laid down in the snow on their bellies and dug mutual holes. Everyone watching was caught in complete awe, no one had ever witnessed a sweeter union of two souls. The happiness that those two shared on that day, and every day afterwards, was a reminder to those witnesses that love conquers all. Defying all rules of nature, the love and friendship between Brutus and Lucy continued until one unforeseen and devastating day, when Lucy began showing mystifying signs of illness. Her fire seemed to be going out. The team knew that something was wrong, and knew that they needed to take action.
With the help of thousands of donors, local veterinarian Dr. Gordan Hardaway, Dr. Loni Odenbeck, and Washington State University, Lucy was given the very best care and medical attention that there is to offer. The truest mother that she had ever known, Ami, sat awake by her side for two solid weeks, and catered to her every need like any good mother would. Despite the efforts of so many people, our dear little Lucy passed away yesterday, January 23rd, 2014.
An empty spot now exists in the hearts of those who knew and loved Lucy. That wild and untamed spirit that she brought into our lives is now laid to rest, but her legacy will live on forever. Lucy allowed many to get a glimpse into the soul of a grizzly bear. Whenever anyone who knew her sees or hears about a bear, whether in captivity or living free in the wild, they will associate that bear with Lucy – and appreciate the significance of that life. Each and every individual living being is invaluable and somehow matters to something or someone.
Lucy will be greatly missed by all, but no one will miss her more than her first and forever love, Brutus. The gap that is left in Brutus’s life will be tough to fill. In every day to follow, he will always be waiting for her to come back to play.
In the true spirit of Lucy, our love for her will live on relentlessly in the commitment and mission of Montana Grizzly Encounter and all that we stand for. Through education and outreach, the memory of the lessons that she has taught us will be passed on. Because of her, we are determined more than ever to make sure that we educate the public in order for grizzly bears to be seen in the truest light. We will continue our rescue efforts so that one day another lost and lonely grizzly may be given a chance to call Montana Grizzly Encounter their home.. and when that day comes, Brutus will once again begin building the bond that will become a forever friendship.
From the middle of nowhere
Hi, my name is Lucy. I was found orphaned in Angoon Alaska in 2011. First Sergeant Charles Hartzell saw I was very malnourished and close to starvation so he coordinated a float plane to bring me to Fortress of the Bear, a bear rescue in Sitka Alaska. They took excellent care of me and got me to eat and start gaining some weight. They also found me a permanent home at Montana Grizzly Encounter. With a donated flight by LightHawk, MGE was able to fly to Sitka and bring me to my new home.
I now spend most of my days as an ambassador for my wild cousins; educating visitors from all around the world about bear safety and conservation.
Some of my favorite hobbies are swimming, playing with logs, rolling down hills and of course playing with Brutus!
My favorite meal would be anything, and lots of it!! Just kidding, but I do love to eat! I love elk, beef, chicken, moose and just about any meat. I also love grapes, cashew nut clusters and popsicles.