Gentle Giants: Grizzly Bears and Mountain Gorillas

CharlieBoth of these magnificent animals have been on my mind because I was on a gorilla trek in January and will soon be back to helping care for the two grizzly bears at the Grouse Mountain Refuge for Endangered Wildlife. I have also just reread Dian Fossey’s Gorillas in the Mist and I went to hear Charlie Russell speak about his many years of living with the grizzlies in a remote area in Russia. The accompanying pictures are of Charlie Russell with the bears and one of Dian Fossey.

Dian Fossey proved, without a doubt, that the Mountain Gorillas are gentle giants when they are treated with respect. Charlie Russell discovered the same thing about the grizzly bears he lived with. Both animals have an intelligent, playful and peaceful nature. They will interact in a friendly way with humans if they haven’t been abused.charlierussell bear 4

But humans have not always treated these animals respectfully. Both animals have been poached for body parts, or the young are kidnapped to be taken to faraway zoos. Ranchers have come into conflict with bears and they have been the target of trophy hunters. When the animals associate humans with violence, they can return the violence.Dian Fossey

I thought that this first picture of Charlie Russell must have been photo-shopped, but in his presentation he showed the series of pictures leading up to it. The bear was there first, and allowed Charlie to join him.charlie-russell

If only human nature was always so intelligent, playful and peaceful.charlie-russell3


4 thoughts on “Gentle Giants: Grizzly Bears and Mountain Gorillas

  1. Loved your post, Shelley, and the fabulous pictures! That must have been a terrific talk. I think humans are infinitely malleable in terms of the behaviour we can learn to exhibit toward other animals. It’s important that we’re taught, ideally from a young age, to respect all other animals and understand that they have emotions, needs, gentleness and intelligence. I think your post does just that!

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