Training Bears

Ruth LaBarge has owned and trained bears for the entertainment industry for over thirty years.  She has the largest selection of working Kodiak bears and black bears in North America.  They are seen in many feature films, TV programs, and commercials.  Her animal actors also appear in TV nature programs like Wild America, Nature, and National Geographic’s “Grizzly.”

The video demonstrates the trained behaviors of 5 of her bears.  Some of the bears were trained for years to perform specific behaviors for upcoming movie scripts.  One such behavior is opening the mouth to look ferocious.  That behavior has been used for many movies, book covers, and magazine covers.

Ruth provided helpful advice for constructing the North American Bear Center’s bear enclosure.

The tame bears that are photographed for the open-mouth book and magazine covers look less ferocious with their trainers.  These gentle bears were trained since birth to open their mouths for food.  Bears do not snarl like cats and dogs.  The book and magazine covers show a trained behavior that sells because it fits the stereotype the public has been led to expect from bears.


A partial list of recent credits for Ruth LaBarge’s bears includes
Commercials  Movies TV Programs
Pepsi (Super Bowl ad)Grizzly FallsBuffy the Vampire Slayer
Bud Lite (Super Bowl ad)Brokeback MountainCharmed
ToyotaThe EdgeGeneral Hospital
Rice Krispies TreatsReturn to Grizzly MountainYou asked for it
Farmers InsuranceTrue HeartThe Sopranos
Napa Chevy TahoeDr. Dolittle 2Walker, Texas Ranger
American ExpressThe Last TrapperWild America
Titleist Golf BallsAnchormanNational Geographic’s Grizzly
GatoradePathfinderSaving Grace
Ericsson Cell PhonesGentle Ben 1 and 2
Hostess TwinkiesA Bear Named Winnie
Exide BatteriesMowgli’s Story
Titan TiresDisney’s Jungle Book
Federal ExpessAgainst the Wild
KinkosWhen Calls the Heart
Kellogg’s Corn FlakesMr. Nobody
Seven-upNorthern Lights
Triden MintBorat
Roury’s Cheeses
Kemp’s Ice Cream




Myths and Misconceptions (article list)