Brutus the grizzly bear learns to swim in city pool

2009-09-13T14:00:00Z 2014-12-12T12:06:01Z Brutus the grizzly bear learns to swim in city poolBy ANGELA BRANDT Helena Independent Record missoulian.com
September 13, 2009 2:00 pm  • 

EAST HELENA - When it came time to teach his "kid" to swim, Casey Anderson wanted to return to the place where he had learned - the East Helena pool.

Of course, when Anderson had his first dip in the pool, there wasn't a film crew on hand and an electrified fence around the swimming hole to keep him contained.

That's because Anderson's "kid" would more accurately be described as his cub because Brutus is an 800-pound grizzly bear.

Anderson and Brutus, stars of National Geographic's "Expedition Grizzly," were in East Helena last week filming "Expedition Kodiak," a special set to run next year. Anderson spent three weeks with Kodiak bears in Alaska watching mother bears teach their cubs how to catch fish.

He then came home to Montana to teach Brutus using the same techniques and found it only fitting to teach his kid in the same body of water where he first learned to swim.

Anderson's father - Brutus' grandfather - and his wife, actress Missi Pyle, also were on hand.

"It's a family event just like any first swim would be," Anderson said.

The day in East Helena, where Anderson grew up just down the road from the pool, was part of baby steps to get Brutus to fish on his own. After practicing with a fake fish on a line, Brutus will return home to Montana Grizzly Encounter in Bozeman and learn to catch live ones.

Although Brutus was a bit timid of the water at first, Anderson coaxed the 7-year-old bear into the water with marshmallows and other treats.

"I've had him since he was the size of a cupcake," he said of Brutus, who served as best man in his wedding.

Anderson's father, Chris Anderson of East Helena, was elated.

"It's great. It's nice. I enjoy it. I'm proud of him," he said, adding that they tried to keep the filming quiet but word of mouth spread throughout the day.

Tailgaters and others looked on as Brutus took his dip in the pool.

"It's the most exciting thing to happen in East Helena since the stacks fell down," Anderson said. "It's hard to do anything with a grizzly bear and not get a crowd, but it's great."

Debbie Williams heard about the shoot from a friend and decided to take her son to watch.

"It's awesome. It's amazing to see a grizzly swimming in the East Helena pool."

"This is really neat," Williams said, as she snapped a picture with her cell phone.

Mauri Erickson, a 12-year-old East Helenan, walked over from her residence just down the street.

"He's a lot bigger than I thought he would be," she said.

"I think it's really cool that there's a bear swimming in my favorite pool," Erickson added.

Reporter Angela Brandt can be reached at (406) 447-4078 or at angela.brandt@helenair.com.

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