|Beautiful Bella --- This girl has quite a personality.|
Roger here.... Our journey has taken us from Great Falls to Bozeman, Montana for two nights. The drive along I-15 was awesome.
|Quick photos through the window as we drove|
What scenery! But, why Bozeman? After not seeing grizzlies at Glacier National Park and the Canadian Rockies, we wanted to ensure grizzly bear sightings, and sightings we had.
|Entrance to Montana Grizzly Encounter|
Casey Anderson's Montana Grizzly Encounter - More Info
|Ten-Year-Old Brutus (foreground) with Bella|
|Bears on the other side of this wall|
|Cool Little Souvenir Shop|
A photo-op next to a couple of giant teddy bears was also required --- not really.
When we turned a corner, we entered the viewing area where Brutus and Bella were wandering around inside the enclosure. A docent greeted us, answered questions, and provided great information about the bears and their backgrounds as we watched their every move. After a few minutes, I realized that I had been smiling since seeing the two bears.
The bears (five in all) are released from their dens into the enclosure two at a time. Brutus is almost always released with Bella. We had just missed the two of them playing.
|Two-Year-Old Bella Posing by the Pond|
Bella was abandoned by her mother in Alaska before learning the necessary skills of survival that the mothers must teach to the cubs. Survival techniques are not instinctive to grizzlies.
|Bella Modeling Her Paw|
These pictures of Bella posing in front of the pond (and she did act like she was posing for the cameras) were taken less than 10 feet from Bella. There were no walls or bars between us, to speak. It almost seemed as if we were in the enclosure with them. We were totally safe, however, since a moat and an electric fence protected us.
The view of two-year old Bella (320 pounds) below gives a better perspective of the enclosure. They evidently love to play in the ponds.
During our morning visit, Bella provided all of the entertainment. While Brutus lounged behind his rock, occasionally raising his head. Bella wandered all around. Bella stopped to look at us. Bella picked up a log and tossed it and climbed up on a boulder. Her twitching nose was working constantly. Grizzlies can smell food from three miles away! The staff always hides treats in various locations in the enclosure before each outing. What a ham!
|Look at me! I can sit down just like you humans. (I can also stand up on two feet, but an extra donation is required for me to show you that).|
In the photo below Bella picked up a small stick between her four-inch claws, held it for a while, looked at it, then threw it away.
|Look! I found a stick.|
|Look how scary I can be!|
We spent quite a bit of time entranced by Bella and her antics before deciding to drive into Bozeman for lunch and then returning in the afternoon.
|Outdoor Seating at the Bacchus Brew Pub|
Our $6 admission (for seniors) allowed us to return to Grizzly Encounter without charge that same day or the next. We knew we'd see different bears in the afternoon, so back we went.
Maggi and Jake were in the enclosure when we returned for our afternoon visit. They were both rescued from an unethical breeding environment where they could not be properly cared for at a young age. This is their third home. They are currently five years old. Since they were older when they arrived at Montana Grizzly Encounter, they are not fully bonded to Casey and Ami.
|Maggi and Jake|
|Maggi says, "I just turned in a circle, now I'm going over here."|
|Maggi says, "Now I'm going over there."|
Jake moved around more that Brutus, but his movements were not constant. He seemed to lumber from point to point before plopping down for a rest.
|Jake says, "Check out my claws."|
|Jake says, "That ten-yard walk was exhausting. I need to lay down."|
I wish that this picture of Maggi and Jake nuzzling was clearer. It brought a round of aaaahs from the viewing area.
Montana Grizzly Encounters is a wonderful place. We were able to closely and leisurely observe the bears in a natural setting. We know due to the young ages of the bears when they were rescued, that they would not be able to survive in the wild. It is not a zoo for the frivolity of people. It is a rescue center for the bears. We know that the bears have a lifelong home at the center. We know that our purchases and admission fees help to maintain the facility. I am still smiling.
Our day in Bozeman was capped off by an awesome sunset:
We are in Ennis, Montana right now. Tomorrow we plan to visit the original state capital of Montana (now a ghost town), Virginia City.
The pet picture of the day is our two buddies already in their place for the next leg of our trip. They can always tell when it's time to pack up.
|Where we goin' now??|