Former biologist Joel Rosenthal lives a pretty wild life!
The 74-year-old currently shares his home, Point of View Farm in West Virginia with 5 black bears.
Joel was been rescuing wild bears and raising them in his house for the past 7 years, in an attempt to save them from hunters.
He says, ‘I take naps with them, we play in the house, they get fed in the house and then as they grow they’re moved to larger facilities outside.’
‘I feed them several times a day, I want them to get used to me, I want them to become bound to me so that we have this special relationship that makes the entire process of raising them and then eventually releasing them a lot easier.’
Once the hunting season has passed and the bears are old enough, Joel always releases them back into their natural habitat in the wild.
‘They don’t go off and become a nuisance, they don’t go off and break into peoples homes, they don’t attack people. They just go off and become wild bears which is exactly what they’re genetically programmed to do.’
‘I’ve had 20 bears altogether. My guess is that almost all of them have been killed by hunters.’
‘I try to separate my emotions from it. I have to divorce from my brain any accumulation of grief knowing that again, most if not all of the bears that I have released are dead.’
Because of the work he has done, people in the local community now often contact Joel when they find injuries or abandoned bears, in the hope that he will take them in. His first ever bear, Rose came into Joel’s care back in 2009.
‘Rose is almost 7-years-old. She was raised in the house and a couple of years ago she had a cub right here. And I played with the cub every day until she went off with the cub into the forest. She’s probably around 300lb but I gotta lock her up to stop her from getting shot. Whilst she and I have this special relationship if I were to let her out right now she wouldn’t bother anybody but once she’s off in the woods she’s just a wild bear.’
Nature-loving Joel is happy to admit that he prefers the company of animals to humans. Luckily for him he lives deep in the forest on the deserted side of a large river, meaning that he can go for months at a time without seeing another human.
‘I live all alone. I live miles from the nearest human being. I sometimes go a month or more, maybe 2 months, without ever seeing another human being and I’m a happy camper.’
Although Joel has never been attacked by one of his bears, he does understand that the animals do pose a threat because of their size.
‘I consider bears to be very, very safe.’
‘Bears are wonderful animals. I have never been attacked by a bear. We’re taking about a 200lb or 300lb animal who is stronger than 10 human beings and quicker than a rattlesnake.’
‘At the very least I’m gonna get scratched or injured a little bit but it’s not out of malice.’
Ultimately, there’s nothing Joel loves more than to spend his days caring for his beloved bears.
‘I really have to pinch myself all the time because I can’t believe that I’m really, really doing this and that I have this relationship with these animals.’
‘Not sex, not food, can top just casually going for an hour hike with a bear.
‘There’s no doubt about it, that my raising, caring for, interacting with and releasing bears to the environment has been very, very special.’
‘I’m 74-years-old and this is the culmination of my life-long dream to have a place like this and it’s all happening.’
We hope Joel enjoys many more years carrying on his brilliant work!