updated 04/30/2009 AT 6:07 PM ET
•originally published 05/01/2009 AT 7:00 AM ET
When wildlife naturalist Casey Anderson and his wife, actress Missi Pyle, got married last August, there was one guest in attendance that overshadowed the bride: Brutus, an 800-lb. grizzly bear that Anderson had raised after being rescued from an overpopulated wildlife park.
But the bride surely didn’t mind. Seven-year-old Brutus lives on Anderson’s five-acre wildlife sanctuary in Montana – he’s part of the family!
You can see for yourself on National Geographic as it offers a peek into Anderson’s passion for the fascinating animal in the special Expedition Grizzly, airing May 3 at 9 p.m. It documents the year that he spent studying the vulnerable existence of grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park. Brutus went along for the ride, pitching in when he could to enlighten viewers on grizzly behavior and how to avoid conflict with them.
Though he lives in captivity, Brutus enjoys all the activities wild bears do on Anderson’s vast acreage, which hosts four other rescued bears. “He digs, swims, wrestles with other bears, he’s a bear,” says Anderson. “But being that he was in my life since he was so little, I’m a huge part of his life.” And there are mutual benefits. “This insight that he’s allowed me to see in him, I’ve learned integral levels of body language that I only could learn by living with him,” says the grizzly expert. “It has helped me out there in the field.”
Brutus is so well-behaved that he’s a star in his own right. He has appeared in films and educational spots. Says Anderson, “This is what he gets to do, be an ambassador to his wild cousins.”
Catch Casey Anderson in Expedition Grizzly, May 3 on National Geographic. For a sneak peek, check out the clip above!