Indiana man lives with two brown bears, says they’re not pets

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“Most people don’t have animals that can kill them,” observes Jeff “The Bear Man” Watson.

Unless, of course, you’re Jeff himself, as he takes care of two brown bears called Bob and Screech at his home in Indiana – only he refuses to call them pets.

“They don’t meet the traditional definition of a pet,” he explained. “They’re wild animals, carnivores at the top – and they rule the roost.

“Most people think that if they take a wild animal and love it and treat it right, you will somehow cause it to let go of its natural instincts.

‘That will never happen. You can never tame a bear. You can train one, but you can never tame one.

Jeff ‘The Bear Man’ Watson shares his home in Indiana with two adult brown bears, named Bob and Screech, whom he adopted from a closed wildlife sanctuary

Jeff shares a bond with the two animals, but has no illusions about the nature of their relationship.

Jeff shares a bond with the two animals, but has no illusions about the nature of their relationship. “They rule the roost,” he said

Caring for animals is a full-time job for Jeff, who says one of the biggest challenges in keeping wild animals like Bob and Screech is keeping them entertained.

Caring for animals is a full-time job for Jeff, who says one of the biggest challenges in keeping wild animals like Bob and Screech is keeping them entertained.

Watson has a bear breeding history stretching back almost three decades, although his obsession with animals dates back to childhood.

He had his first bear, a Kodiak cub named Brody, in 1995 while recovering from a neurological illness that had robbed him of his ability to walk.

After getting back on his feet, Watson said someone gave him the opportunity to raise Brody and he took it, bottle-feeding him for three years.

Watson said, “He would take nine half-gallon bottles of veal at a time. He started at 8 pounds, at one year he weighed 400 pounds and a year and a half he weighed 550 pounds.

“When you raise a bear you become a surrogate and they don’t leave you, they go through a lot of separation anxiety.

“It looks a lot like a human being, most certainly when they are young they see you as their mother.”

Jeff has an obsession with bears that dates back to his childhood, but began raising them almost three decades ago when he faced off against a Kodiak bear cub called Brody.

Jeff has an obsession with bears that dates back to his childhood, but began raising them almost three decades ago when he faced off against a Kodiak bear cub called Brody.

Jeff and Brody

Jeff Watson

Brody rose to fame and appeared on television, in movies, and in commercials including the Energizer Drums and the Rice Kirspie Treats. These days Jeff uses his bears to educate people about animals

Brody has become a screen star, appearing in commercials such as Energizer Drums and Rice Krispie Treats, as well as television shows such as Hardball starring Chris Matthews and the 1999 film PT Barnum, about the American showman.

At one point, Watson and Brody were invited to boxer Muhammad Ali’s house, where they spent a day with him.

Several years ago, Watson had the opportunity to confront Bob and Screech after a wildlife park in Georgia closed and was unable to relocate them.

“They are about seven-year-old litter brothers and they come from a park in Georgia,” he explained.

“It was a tourist attraction, and they went bankrupt and before they closed, a friend of mine called me and said, ‘Hey, they have a few cubs that they don’t want.’

“I didn’t pay them, they were given to me. People ask me if I saved them and for me it is an overplayed word.

“I took them, I raised them, and I loved them, and I tried to give them the best life you can give a captive bear – who knows what their fate would be.”

At one point, Watson harbored hopes of releasing Bob and Screech into the wild, but after speaking to experts, he was unwilling to do so.

Watson refuses to label bears as pets because they are top predators that can never be tamed.

Watson refuses to label bears as pets because they are top predators that can never be tamed. “You can train a bear, but you can never tame one,” he added.

Watson invites tourists to his ranch to see the bears and teach them lessons on how to behave in bear country in hopes of saving humans and bears from getting hurt

Watson invites tourists to his ranch to see the bears and teach them lessons on how to behave in bear country in hopes of saving humans and bears from getting hurt

While Watson says he has made plans for Bob and Screech in case he dies, he has no plans to abandon them and will continue to care for them for as long as possible.

While Watson says he has made plans for Bob and Screech in case he dies, he has no plans to abandon them and will continue to care for them for as long as possible.

Because the couple were hand-raised, they have lost their fear of humans, which means they will regularly approach people and homes, and are likely to be killed.

The only way to break this association would be to inflict pain on bears, so that they associate people with negative feelings and stay away from them, and Watson said he was unwilling. to live it.

Having decided that there was no other viable alternative but to keep the couple, he decided to use them for educational lectures and to teach people how to stay safe in bear country.

“The animal itself can benefit, and people can benefit, so I hope I can save people’s lives – and bears. And that’s where I am now, ”he said.

“People ask me, ‘What does the future hold for Bob and Screech? “. I made arrangements if anything happened to me that they could go somewhere.

“But their future right now is to stay with me.

“I know some people would think it’s unhealthy for them, but once they bond with someone, it’s pretty hard to break that bond.”


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