Living With Brutus, the 800-Pound Bear

Best man bear

Naturalist Casey Anderson and his best friend Brutus have an exceptionally close relationship. It began when Anderson saved Brutus from an uncertain future as a youth and culminated when Brutus served as Anderson's best man in his September 2008 wedding.

Brutus didn't get to walk down the aisle, but he was in some pictures and ate wedding cake.

What makes the pair's connection unique is the fact that Brutus is an 800-pound grizzly bear.

"He's my best friend," Anderson told "Good Morning America." "He gives me unconditional love."

While the mere mention of a bear may conjure up images of blood-thirsty killers for some, Anderson seeks to dispel that myth -- with Brutus' help.

"It's the biggest misconception. When you hear about a grizzly bear, it's because they have done something wrong," Anderson said.

Anderson said he wants to educate the public about the true character of bears, which is part of the reason he created began the Montana Grizzly Encounter animal sanctuary.

The bear haven never would have been built if it hadn't been for Brutus.

Boy Meets Bear

Anderson met Brutus seven years ago in a wildlife park where the then cub was born. The preserve suffered from over-population, and Brutus was destined to remain in captivity or be euthanized. His odds didn't look good.

The East Helena, Mont., native couldn't let that happen to Brutus, who he thought looked like a "fuzzy Twinkie." From the beginning he said something special existed between the two.

So he built the Montana Grizzly Encounter in Bozeman, Mont., especially for Brutus, so he could grow up "being a bear."

In addition to giving Brutus a home and a place to show off his magnetic personality, the sanctuary also teaches the public about grizzly bears.

"We're trying to cure the myths, educate the public," Anderson said. "There's a way to coexist with these animals, as long as you play by the rules."

The sanctuary rescues bears that are in bad captive situations and gives them the best possible life they can have, Anderson said.

More Than a Grizzly

Anderson said grizzly bears are similar to humans in that they are emotive. Not only do bears have a wide emotional range that includes humor, but the furry creatures also shed tears of joy, according to Anderson.

Each of them has a different personality and they all have charm and charisma and can captivate people's attention.

As an example Anderson points to an occasion when he was bottle feeding and 8-month-old Brutus. The bear made a lot of eye contact and started tearing, he said.

At first Anderson thought Brutus was straining too hard to suck on the bottle, but when the bear was older he enjoyed having his belly rubbed and those same tears welled up in his eyes.

Anderson saw it as a window into his best pal's soul and also as the greatest gift Brutus has ever given him -- along with his unconditional love.

Bad PR for Grizzly Bears?

Anderson said part of the fear associated with grizzlies stems from the fact that people mostly hear about them when they've done something wrong; so the public thinks they are man killers and blood thirsty.

But Anderson believes grizzly bears have been stereotyped and he is trying to alter common conceptions about the animal.

Bears think similarly to people and have the same needs as humans did when they were hunter gatherers, he said. They aren't killer animals, but rather, clowns, Anderson said.

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