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Sensationalist Grizzly TV Show Appalls Everyone

The Discovery Channel recently aired an episode of a new show called "Bear Feeding Frenzy." The show purports to give viewers an inside, hidden camera look at grizzly bears in the wild. Former soap opera star Chris Douglas sits inside a bear proof plexiglass box while a grizzly bear approaches, mangles a mannequin tied to the outside of the box, and drags it away into the woods for further chomping. The catch? It was filmed entirely at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage, inside an eighteen acre fenced enclosure. "Bear Feeding Frenzy" opens with a sensational shot of claws ripping through a red tinged background. The show makes no mention of the fact that the shots were staged, nor that the bears are - if not tame and domesticated - at the very least not actually "wild." Shots of the soap opera star squatting in a Plexiglass box are intercut with other shots from the Katmai wilderness, people fishing in the Russian River, and other (actually) wild areas, without comment. In this video clip on the Discovery Channel website, the bear is lured towards the box by a collection of treats set out on chunks of split firewood. Ostensibly to determine which treats the bears are most attracted to, it is just another excuse for a dramatic voice over and a hushed display of awe from the soap opera star. "Look at those claws," he whispers, as the bear ambles cautiously from one package to another. Although staged and filmed with bears that essentially live in a zoo, the show attempts to provide an educational component. During the aforementioned segment, the soap opera star takes care to make a point about safety in bear country: "One thing is certain. If I was camping, and these foods were left like this […] there's no doubt I would be face to face with a hungry grizzly bear." This is good advice. And I think most bear experts would agree that it is a bad idea to leave piles of hamburgers and Rice Krispy Treats laying around your campsite overnight. The point is ostensibly brought home after the bears finish off the buffet of snacks, and begin investigating the Plexiglass cage. While Chris Douglas squats inside with a hand held video camera, the bears snuffle around the exterior of the box. "Look at those teeth," Douglas whispers, as one bear experimentally licks the Plexiglass like an oversized dog. The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center's website makes no mention of "Bear Feeding Frenzy." One of the scientists who appears in the show regrets his participation, saying that he was lured onto the show under false pretenses. One wonders, what did the producers tell the AWCC? And have they learned their lesson from their brush with Hollywood? As for the bears of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (who appear in the show as an uncredited role), one suspects that Hugo, Joe Boxer, and Patron had a cracking good time. Life probably gets a little dull when you live in a big fenced yard. What better way to liven up the day than to be fed sugary treats and cheeseburgers, while a former "Days of our Lives" actor squats inside a mysterious box?