This man developed a unique bond with a giant Kodiak bear. He raised him from the time that the bear was a young cub. The animal is now 9 feet tall and weighs 1,400 pounds—but that doesn’t stop the duo from cuddling and having a great time together!
This lucky couple, Jim Kowalczik and his wife Susan, that runs the Orphaned Wildlife Center—an organization in Otisville, New York, which helps rehabilitate injured animals—has the privilege of working with some very special guests that, in time, turn to family.
One of their residents is Jimbo—a giant Kodiak bear that is 9 feet tall and weighs 1,400 pounds (635 kg). He was born in captivity and has been around humans his entire life. Because of this, he is friendly towards his caregivers, and they have been able to bond with him.
“He’ll play with you all day if you have the time,’’ said Jim Kowalczik.
“They’re content, they’re happy. If they weren’t, you would know it, Jimmy is my best friend. It doesn’t get any better than that. He loves you just for you,” he told Barcroft.
However, Jim says that one has to be careful around this strong animal. “He’s very gentle but sometimes he doesn’t know his own strength—like if you’re trying to walk away, he will grab your clothes or shorts and pull you back to him.
“Think of the strongest person you know and magnify it by a thousand times. He has so much strength. All he’d have to do is lay on you,” he said.
The couple has 11 bears in their care. They are fed with 30 pounds (13.6 kg) of food daily, including a mix of meat, pet food, fruit, and the occasional marshmallow as a treat.
Taking care of these wild animals is very rewarding, as Susan says, “It’s a wonderful thing to watch them grow up and to have them from very little and make an impression on them.”
Jim said, “They are like your children. That’s how much you love them. And they give a lot back to you. They love you just as much. Sometimes you take it for granted, but it is a special relationship.”
The Kowalcziks have also had to deal with the loss of four of their beloved bears. A Kodiak bear’s lifespan is between 20 and 25 years, so when one dies, it’s like losing a family member. Susan said, “It’s the same thing as mourning a child.”
“The bears are everything to me, I would do anything for them. I spend all day with them everyday,” said Susan. And Jim added, “This is our life and we are a big bear family.”
Such a heart-warming relation! Check out some more incredible photos below!