Don’t try this at home.
Jim Kowalczik and his 1,400-pound Kodiak bear Jimbo go way back so he thought nothing of giving the creature a bear hug when the big guy was feeling under the weather.
Jimbo, 24, was born in a California animal park and Kowalczik took him in as a cub after the park closed. Jimbo couldn’t be returned to the wild because he was born in captivity and had a leg injury.
Earlier this month, the 10-foot-tall bear was suffering from an unknown illness and became agitated after his vet appointment, Philadelphia’s ABC-6 reported. That’s when Kowalczik stepped in with some comfort.
Kowalczik, a retired corrections officer, and his wife, Susan, have worked with bears for decades. They founded the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, N.Y., and currently have 11 bears and several smaller animals living on the grounds. While the Kowalcziks hope to rehabilitate the smaller animals, the bears will either stay or be moved to other sanctuaries. The “extremely friendly” Jimbo, however, will spend the rest of his days at the center; he could live until his late 20s or even early 30s.
“He’s just part of the family now,” Kowalczik told The National Geographic.