Don’t feed this life model!

He’s huge. He’s hunky. He’s the hairiest model west of the Mississippi. Probably east of the Mississippi, too.

His name is Brutus and he’s an 800-pound grizzly bear, taller than an LA Laker. Visiting Jackson Hole, WY, recently, I heard about Brutus while chatting with sculptor Ken Rowe as he conducted a sculpting demonstration at Mountain Trails Gallery. It seems in certain circles the plus-size Brutus is well known as a top model for wildlife sculptors and painters such as Rowe, Richard Loffler and Daniel Smith. Rowe has been sculpting Brutus on location at the Montana Grizzly Encounter since 2002. Over the years, he has fashioned eight pieces and 15 studies of the popular bear. “There is no way a photograph or video can replace reaching over and touching a bear as you are sculpting him,” Rowe says.

Brutus is hardly your average bear, according to Rowe. “I very much respect that he is a grizzly bear but he acts like a large dog that exudes personality.” The sculptor usually works with Brutus in a series of morning sessions and often brings tasty treats for his grizzly pal. (Brutus’s favorite delicacy is cinnamon-flavored Gummi Bears.) Unlike skinny haute couture models who dine on three asparagus spears a day, the humongous Brutus chows down on 35 pounds of food a day, about 20,000 calories, without reproach.  

Brutus also stars in films and commercials and has his own website. He even appeared on Oprah earlier this year in a segment entitled Amazing Animal Friendships. But Brutus is no fool—he doesn’t work pro bono. The furry star is paid for his poses and the earnings help fund the Montana Grizzly Encounter, the education center and sanctuary Brutus calls home.

—Bonnie Gangelhoff

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