A walk on the wild side in Bear Country - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Big E 2013

A walk on the wild side in Bear Country

At the Big E, you'll find everything from elephants, to a giant horse, to pony rides. And then, there's Bear Country.

"You've got Jimmy who's a male Kodiak, roughly 1600 pounds. He's 15 years old and stands about nine feet tall. Then Leo is a Syrian brown. He's also 15, about 800 pounds, and seven  feet tall," says Bear Country's Jim Kowalczik.

Kowalczik has been papa bear to Jimmy and Leo since they were babies. They're just two of 11 bears living with his family in Middletown, New York. Thousands of people have paid a few bucks to see the bears at the Big E for the last 10 years.

The bears' enclosure is kept at 55 degrees, but paying $3 and braving a few minutes of cold can help these animals lead better lives.

"That's what this pays for... to better their living areas. Their outdoor and indoor living areas," says Kowalczik.

According to Kowalczik, humans and bears have a lot in common.

"Bears eat a lot of the same things we do. Fish fruits, vegetables, bread, peanuts, marshmallows, and even little bit of dog food," says Kowalczik.

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