What’s the best medicine for a sick bear? Well, aside from actual medicine, a big ol’ bear hug.
Jimbo, a 1400-pound 24-year-old Kodiak bear, wasn’t feeling too great. As a result, his caretaker had to take him to the vet for a checkup. Needless to say, this only made him feel much worse, becoming grumpy and agitated for the rest of the day.
Wanting to help, his caretaker Jim Kowalczik came to the rescue. While many would fear a disgruntled 10 foot tall bear, he was undeterred. In a video of the two, Jim is seen hugging Jimbo around the neck and petting him, sitting down beside him to let the bear lick and chew his ungloved hand until he feels better. The video quickly went viral, accruing nearly 2 million views in less than two weeks.
Jim and Jimbo grew to trust each other over many years. Jimbo, born in captivity in a now-defunct California zoo, can never be released into the wild. Because of this, Jim and his wife Susan adopted him as a cub and have been raising him as a member of the family ever since.
Together, the couple founded the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York. They rehabilitate and care for wild animals that have been injured or abandoned. At present, 11 bears live on the property including Jimbo, with several smaller animals they hope to release back into the wild some day. The bears, however, cannot be released for various reasons and will continue to live there or be moved to different sanctuaries as they grow older.
Jimbo, however, will always remain a part of the Kowalczik family, living out the rest of his days with them at the Center.