JIM KOWALCZIK: We’re one big bear family! JIM KOWALCZIK: Our bear family is like every other family and stuff, you love them to
death, but there’s other times they drive you nuts, right? COMM: Jim and Susan run a centre for orphaned wildlife in Otisville, New York. SUSAN KOWALCZIK: I’m there every day, but he is the one that walks in the door and everybody
lights up. You know and it’s kind of funny, because they just love him to death. SUSAN KOWALCZIK: Come on, go inside or get out of the way! And I’m the one that does
all the work and he just has to walk in the door. COMM: This is Jimmy, a 21-year-old Kodiak bear rescued from a closing wildlife park.
He’s just one of the eleven bears that lives with them. JIM KOWALCZIK: They’ll knock you around a little bit and stuff, nothing, you know,
not maliciously, you know, but you gotta watch you don’t get scratched or poked in the
eye or something. Hey! You know better than that, what’re you doing? It’s all right. They could kill you, you know. He’d just have to hit you on time. COMM: Kodiak bears are one of the largest species in the world. SUSAN KOWALCZIK: He’s about 1400lbs and if he stood up on you on his hind legs, he’d
probably be about 9 feet tall. JIM KOWALCZIK: Think the strongest person you know or whatever and you can magnify that
by a thousand times. Yeah, he’s big! I mean, a small bear will kick your butt and he’s
got so much strength, all he would have to do is lay on you. SUSAN KOWALCIZK: He’s like them, he’s like a bear. He has no, no fear of them, it’s
really amazing! JIM KOWALCZIK: We’ve had Jimmy for 21 years now, got him as a little cub and he’s been
with us his whole life. COMM: Taking care of bears throughout their lives means that Jim and Susan develop deep
bonds with the animals. Interviewer: It’s actually the same as somebody who is mourning their child. Susan: Yeah, it’s, you know, it’s the same thing. You spend a lot of time with them, we care so much for them. We lost 4 altogether so far here. Jim: Would be just like burying one of your family members. I can’t do this! COMM: Back at the centre, it’s lunchtime. COMM: In the wild, these bears need to eat up to 90lbs of food every day. Everything
from baby elks to spawning salmon, berries and plants. JIM KOWALCZIK: You guys ready to eat? COMM: And here the bears enjoy a daily diet of meat, grains, breads, fruit and veg, with
the occasional marshmallow treat. JIM KOWALCZIK: These bears once in a while, they’re always looking for food, they really
don’t want for anything other than attention. COMM: One of the other bears at the centre is Jenny. SUSAN KOWALCIZK: When the bears are little and they’re with their mother, after they
drink their milk, they’ll suckle on her for a time and they, they make this little
noise that you hear. She just never grew up, she still does this. She looks at me as if
I’m her mother. When she gets to the pinky, she likes to just bite down on that pinky.
I love being around her and I’m happy that she feels that way about me still after all
these years. Oh peanuts? All right, I have some peanuts. SUSAN KOWALCIZK: It’s all a wonderful thing to watch them grow up and, and to have them
from very little and, and to make an impression on them.
JIM KOWALCIZIK: They’re like your children, that’s how much you love them. And they
give a lot back to you too, you know they, they love you just as much. Sometimes you
take it for granted, but it is a special relationship. SUSAN KOWALCZIK: Yeah, the bears are everything to me. I, I would do anything for them. I
spend all day with them every day. JIM KOWALCIZK: This is our life and we’re one big bear family!