1,500-pound Kodiak bear has died after 20 years of family life

Junie Sihlangu
Oct 01, 2018
09:15 A.M.
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Jimbo was a huge Kodiak brown bear who was born in captivity. Jim and Susan Kowalczik, who founded the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York, kept the cub in their sanctuary.


The bear never left to go back to the wild as planned but spent 24 years with the Kowalczik family. However, this year in March; the bear passed away

When Jim and Susan Kowalczik found Jimbo in captivity he was injured. This meant the animal could never be returned to the wild and the Kowalczik’s kept him.

Jimbo wasn’t lonely as he lived with 11 other bears at the sanctuary. Some of the animals had survived collisions with cars; others had become orphans when their mothers were killed.


For more on this story go to our Twitter account @amomama_usa. The couple treated Jimbo as part of their family.

Jim was often pictured playing with the bear. The two would often sit together and cuddle or Jim would rub and hug the 10-foot bear.


In February, Jimbo wasn't feeling too well. He had a visit from the veterinarian who did little to help him, and the cause of his discomfort was unknown.

Later, it was discovered that the bear suffered from cancer of the liver. The disease caused the animal to become uncomfortable and agitated.


The couple tried to keep the bear happy by cuddling and just talking to him. Unfortunately, Jimbo passed away the in March.

Jim and Susan were struck with grief and have been finding it hard to come to terms with their loss. The bear had become a huge part of their family for more than 20 years.


Before his death, the couple had reached out to people on social media to pray for the animal’s health.

They wrote, “We just wanted to let you all know that Jimbo is doing poorly again. If you are a religious person, please pray for him.”


They were also aware that Jimbo might not make it.

They wrote, “We wanted to prepare you all though that his prognosis is not good, and every day we have we are considering a gift. Thank you all for caring about him along with us.”

Jim is a retired corrections officer who now works in excavating beside owning the Orphaned Wildlife Center with his wife.