Jim and Susan Kowalczik run the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York, which helps animals like their 1,400-pound Kodiak bear, Jimmy

By Alex Heigl
Updated October 03, 2016 05:38 PM
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Jimmy’s got a great home, with two loving parents, Jim and Susan.

They adopted him when he was very young, and he’s been with them for 20 years.

Also, Jimmy is a 1,400-pound, 9-foot-tall Kodiak brown bear.

“Jimmy is my best friend,” 57-year-old Jim Kowalczik told Barcroft Media. “It doesn’t get any better than that. He loves you just for you.”

The trio first came to the internet’s attention back in January, when a video of retired corrections officer Jim giving his friend a back rub blew up online.

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Jimmy, 21, is “very gentle but sometimes doesn’t know his own strength,” Jim said. “Like if you’re trying to walk away, he will grab your clothes or shorts and pull you back to him. Think of the strongest person you know and magnify it by a thousand times. He has so much strength. All he’d have to do is lay on you.”

The Kowalcziks run the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, New York. The center exists to help injured animals get ready for their release back into the wild, though in some cases, animals like Jimmy have been too injured to be allowed back into the wild. The couple have 11 types of bears as part of their menagerie and usually come to the Sanctuary from breeding programs or other nature reserves that were shut down.

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“It’s a wonderful thing to watch them grow up and to have them from very little and make an impression on them,” Susan told Barcroft. In Jimmy’s case, he was helped along by the 30 pounds of food daily that he gets to consume: A mix of meat, pet food, fruit and the odd marshmallow or two as a sweet treat.

Sadly, because the Kowalcziks are caring for animals that have long life expectations in captivity (20-25 years in the case of Jimmy), that means they’re facing a rough road when he eventually shuffles off the mortal coil. “It’s the same thing as mourning a child,” Susan said.