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Stripy and Jake are bear cubs fed by bottle, who frisk around happily. Other bear orphans perch in the trees when Ben Kilham ventures into their enclosure.
Meet the American bear whisperer, who lives in the woods of New Hampshire and whose life work is understanding black bears, winning him not just international stature but greater insight into humankind.
Bear - Photos - Paintings - Wall - Bears
From the bear photos and paintings on the wall, to the three little wooden bears bidding visitors 'welcome' at the entrance, everything in his renovated barn home exudes his passion.
So does the nearby, three-hectare (7.5-acre) enclosure, where he cares for orphan cubs entrusted to him each year by the New Hampshire fish and game department.
Mothers - Car - Six-foot-four - Meter - Kilham
With their mothers perhaps shot dead or knocked down by a car, the six-foot-four (1.93 meter) Kilham makes sure they grow up safe and well, before releasing them back into the wild aged 18 months.
In addition he observes adult bears in the wild, including Squirty, who is now 22 years old and has had 11 litters.
Dedication - Bears - North - America - Population
His dedication to black bears -- the most common in North America with a population of around 750,000 -- has made him such an expert that China asked for his help with the giant panda, a collaboration that inspired the recently released documentary 'Pandas.'
After a quarter of a century of study, Kilham has no doubt that bears are as close to humans as great apes, even if as he says, apes 'were our closest genetic relative.'
Bears - Humans - Altruism - Words
He quickly realized that female bears were capable, like humans, of 'reciprocal altruism' -- or in other words looking after each other for the greater good.
Squirty provided early proof of that. Shortly after releasing her into the wild, Kilham says another wild female false-charged him in a bid to protect Squirty, despite never having seen her before.
'I was like...
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