My Best Man, the Grizzly

Brutus the Bear poses for pictures, scarfs down cake at best friend's wedding
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Brutus the Bear poses for pictures, scarfs down cake at best friend's wedding

Naturalist Casey Anderson's wedding to actress Missi Pyle looked like a scene straight from Dr. Doolittle. There may not have been a crowd of talking animals, but the best man was an 800-pound grizzly named Brutus who bent over to kiss the groom on the cheek in wedding photos.

Just how does a giant grizzly bear become someone's best man? It began seven years ago when Brutus was a cub and couldn't be released into the wild. Anderson saved the bear from being put down and founded the Montana Grizzly Encounter, a grizzly rescue and educational sanctuary near Yellowstone National Park.

Now the two are practically inseparable and Anderson told Good Morning America "He's my best friend. He gives me unconditional love." Brutus is also a dinner companion, a hot tub mate, and a wrestling buddy for Anderson, leading to an enduring friendship and a few broken ribs.

As it turns out, Brutus is an actor, too. He's been in several films and TV spots but his most recent break is The National Geographic Channel's Expedition Grizzly about grizzlies in Yellowstone. For the film debuting on May 9, Brutus demonstrates his strength by rolling around massive boulders as if they were large marbles and simulates a real bear attack on Anderson.

The whole thing may bring images of Timothy Treadwell to mind but Anderson insists that the comparison is moot—he never pushes Brutus beyond his comfort limits and has described him as a lover of human attention and charismatic.

If nothing else, he's the perfect best man—he may eat all the cake but he'll never drink too much champagne and make an embarrassing toast.

While Brutus may be cute and cuddly—or as Anderson described him when he first saw him, a "fuzzy twinkie"—you should never interfere with bears in the wild. Check out our video on how to survive a bear attack with BACKPACKER's own wild friend, Ted the bear.

—Morgan Keys

Pal picks bear to be beast man (The Sun)