What started as a typical walk in the woods for Casey Anderson changed dramatically when he stumbled across two baby animals who had just lost their mother. Not having the heart to leave them orphaned and alone, Anderson made the bold decision to not only rescue the animals, but also to bring them home. Since then, his life hasn’t been the same.
Having grown up in the Montana wilderness, Anderson had always felt a special connection with nature and animals. In fact, his friends gave him the nickname “animal magnet” when he was young.
And Anderson’s passion for animals never wavered. For example, he later traveled to Africa to work as an animal trainer at various wildlife parks – and experience the thrill that came with it.
In his time, then, Anderson has had up-close encounters with elephants, crocodiles, mountain lions and bears. What’s more, for the last 15 years, he has incorporated his adventures into numerous films and TV productions, including stints on the National Geographic Channel.
For instance, the show Stalking the Mountain Lion With Casey Anderson premiered in 2011 and corresponded with the second annual Big Cat Week. Plus, for the wildlife series Untamed, Anderson guided two expeditions through Botswana’s Okavango Delta. But one of Anderson’s most famous animal interactions stemmed from the moment that changed his life forever.
It occurred in 2002 when Anderson was visiting a wildlife park. Here, he encountered two young animals who had recently lost their mother. And since the park was overcrowded, the two youngsters were fated to be euthanized – except that Anderson could not let that happen.
Instead, Anderson decided to rescue the orphaned animals – a daring move that most people would never attempt. Why? Because the two creatures were five-month-old grizzly bear cubs.
Sadly, though, one of the bear cubs died shortly after Anderson took them home. Consequently, Anderson named the survivor Brutus, and he established the Montana Grizzly Encounter, an learning sanctuary where Brutus and other grizzlies would be safe.
Since Brutus lost his mother at such a young age, returning to the wild was never an option. Indeed, it’s during the first three years of their life that bears especially need their mothers. “That’s when bears in the wild learn everything they need to know to survive,” Anderson explained to OWN.
So Brutus spent his formative years at the Grizzly Encounter, and as a result he became, and remains, a close companion to his rescuer. Yes, even fourteen years later, the now 800-pound bear and Anderson are still best friends.
So much so, in fact, that when Anderson and actress Missi Pyle got married in 2008, guess who was the best man? Brutus! The wedding photos of smiling bride, groom and bear are priceless.
Don’t worry, though: the bear and Pyle reportedly got along great – and we’re sure that Brutus had nothing to do with Anderson and Pyle’s divorce in 2012. Moreover, at least the bond between Anderson and Brutus is truly unbreakable. “This connection goes beyond just taking care of Brutus,” Anderson told Oprah in 2009. “They’re very, very emotional creatures.”
“He’s my best friend,” he told Good Morning America. “He gives me unconditional love.” Not surprisingly, then, Anderson is convinced that bears experience emotions as deeply as humans do. During his interview with Oprah, he spoke about a time when he was upset and crying and how Brutus responded.
“I could see that he wanted to take the pain away from me,” Anderson said. “He came up to me very gently and nudged me. He just stood by me unconditionally and he listened to me and he was there when I was crying. It’s truly what I needed from him. This relationship is a give-and-take.”
In fact, Anderson has often claimed that grizzlies are often misunderstood. Yes, he has argued that they are not the vicious beasts that the public sometimes make them out to be and that normally they avoid human contact.
And it’s true that though large and scary looking, grizzly bears usually have little interest in bothering humans. Notably, most attacks have occurred because a bear felt threatened – such as when a mother bear feels the need to defend her cubs or if a bear encounters a human by surprise.
But it’s not like bears are out on the hunt for humans hiking through the forest. In fact, it’s the opposite! Still, even with a mostly vegetarian diet, adults bears, which can weigh up to 1,200 pounds, do need a lot to eat: about 35 pounds a day. Nevertheless, Anderson has argued that humans and grizzly bears can coexist – but that humans must “play by the rules.”
At the end of the day, however, Anderson has said that he is under no pretensions that Brutus isn’t his own beast. “I definitely don’t treat him like a pet. He’s a grizzly bear,” he stated.
And while Brutus fits right in with his human family, Anderson has also claimed that he does great with other bears at the sanctuary. At the time of the Oprah show, he even mentioned that Brutus had a girlfriend.
As of 2015, though, there were a total of seven rescued grizzly bears at the Montana Grizzly Encounter. What’s more, Brutus was living with his bear friends at the sanctuary and surely getting plenty of quality time with his best friend.