Boo the bear is getting some much-deserved love online, after a video of him being fed from the gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort went viral on Tik Tok.
“It’s pretty strange to see recent videos going viral for all of us, since we have been doing this for quite some time, so these are day-to-day routine tasks for us,” said Catherine Cowan, manager of the Grizzly Bear Refuge at Kicking Horse.
“However, it is great that people are paying attention and asking more questions about Boo and which in turns open up a narrative about conservation issues with bears, ecological importance of bears on a landscape, and day-to-day human-wildlife co-existence.”
Currently, 19-year-old Boo is eating anywhere between 45,000 to 50,000 calories a day as he prepares for the winter season, last weighing in at a whooping 719 lbs. The bear is fed a complicated diet of nuts, plants and meats, given to him in a multitude of creative ways, such as drops from the gondola or hanging up food pinata-style in order to enrich his life and foster natural hunting and scavenging skills.
He also hunts wildlife that make their way into his enclosure, once famously hunting down a moose that had hopped the fence into his territory in the middle of the night.
“He is very meticulous, making sure he gets every single little seed which is dispersed far and wide throughout his enclosure,” said Cowan.
“To many locals in Golden he is an old friend, for guests visiting the area, it is quite an experience seeing Boo up close and personal, and getting a deep dive look at bear behaviour. It ends up changing their perspective about bears in general.”
A decade ago, Boo and his brother, Cari, were found together in the Cariboo Mountains, where they got their names, after their mother was killed on the side of the highway by a poacher, who was eventually fined $9,000 for his crime.
While Cari did not survive his first winter, Boo is still a local and fan-favourite sight to see at the hill, while also being an important part of research being done on grizzly cub rehabilitation.
Research until 2008 on Boo was a contribution to getting grizzly bears into rehabilitation programs with Northern Lights Widlife Society, with Cowan reporting that since 2007, 31 grizzly cubs have been admitted to the program at NLWS.
It’s the only program that can rehabilitate brown bears back into the wild, rather than having orphaned cubs euthanized or live their lives in captivity. For those who do live the rest of their lives in captivity, like Boo does now, research from the refuge helps inform how to give them the best quality of life possible.
Now, Boo is helping biologists understand the impact that bears can have on their habitat, with Boo creating many mico-ecosystems around his enclosure since he arrived at Kicking Horse.
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