Mama Bear was used to train dogs how to attack bears in a process called “bear baiting”. Her previous owners had her front claws and eyeteeth removed so she was unable to defend herself. The dogs were thrown on top of Mama frequently causing all her fur to be torn off; this left punctures and gashes from the attacks. Luckily the authorities were called and Mama Bear was removed from such cruel treatment. In the 1990s there were less laws protecting animals from cruelty and the hunter was given a small fine. But Mama Bear was scarred for life.
Since arriving at Aspen Valley on June 5, 1996 (when she was about 7 years old) her coat has grown back, beautiful in the summer sun but her claws and important teeth will never return. Without them she cannot survive in the wild, unable to dig a den, unable to find certain foods, unable to climb trees in case of danger. She has become a permanent resident at the Sanctuary since then. Mama has a 5-acre enclosure boasting her own swimming pool, warm grassy meadows and cool shady forests. Most of her food sources are in the enclosure but Mama Bear’s two favorite things are the peanuts and dandelion leaves provided to her.
Mama was originally named "Giisus" when she first came to Aspen (which is Ojibway for "The Sun").
On June 30, 2006, Audrey Tourney wrote a little article for the Beacon Star on how Mama got her name - click here
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary: 1116 Crawford Street Rosseau, ON P0C 1J0
What Our Visitors Are Saying:
"Our environment is a legacy to our children. This team works to support Canada's habitats and native animals in so many ways. Thanks for all you do!"
"Amazing people doing great work."
"Overall great experience."
"A really nice walk with mom and dad. I learned how beavers make up the environment."