By: Kyara Massenburg
The Hollywild Animal Park in Inman, S.C. welcomed rare triplet female Syrian brown bears 12 weeks ago. They are one of the most-endangered and rarest species, and Hollywild is one of the few places in the world where these animals are on display
This is the story of the three bears. They're not the bears you read about in Goldilocks. This time its three baby bears.
They aren't just any ‘ole 13 pound fur balls, these young ladys just so happen to be starlets in training.
Cinema Animal Talent is an agency specifically dedicated to providing rare and unusual animals for film productions, commercials and special events. David Meeks, founder of Cinema Animal Talent, can and has met the needs of untold projects for more than thirty years. Meeks is often called to play as a "stunt double" and appears along side some very special animals. Over 65 movie credits, countless commercials and hundreds of special events have featured some of the animals you will encounter at Hollywild Animal Park.
If they want to land a role on the big screen like their neighbors at the Hollywild Animal Park, they have a lot to learn. Bear keeper Jennifer Carinza is in charge of teaching the girls the basics.
Lesson one: trust and comfort.
"When you have an animal in captivity you want that animal to be as comfortable with humans as possible – and obviously you can see we've done a good job with that, here with these guys," says Carinza.
Lesson two: Communication is key.
She also says having solid communication skills with each of the bears is especially important when providing intimate or medical care,
"All of them have their own interesting and you unique language, and if you're open enough and allow it they will they will learn to talk to you in a way that you can understand," says Carinza.
Lesson three: Play time – Rules for recess.
"We need to be careful about them playing with us. You know, you really don't want to teach them to – to chase you. You don't want to be the toy," says Carinza.
David Meeks is the owner, director, and lead animal trainer at Hollywild, but to these girls he's just Poppa bear. He's been training animals for more than forty-five years and says he considers lots of things before letting his animals star in a movie,
"Once we've got a script or a story board we look at it and we will decide where it's going to be shot, if it's going to have people in it. All those things are factors into whether you think you will do that script or not. If it's doing a thing with baby bears and children I'll probably say you know what, I'm going to be busy that day," says Meeks.
Meeks says training a bear for a movie role can be an intricate process,
"Bears are great animals. It's a challenge every time you work with them because they're probably the most volatile of all animals I've ever worked with. And when they get upset they don't have any tack, they attack. That's the difference," says Meeks.
He says he isn't sure just yet if the girls calling is in Hollywood. But if a role comes their way and he is sure they will be safe and have fun playing the part, he will be happy to do it. For now he is going to focus on training them and allow them to be normal bear cubs.