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Who remembers being a little kid and getting her hair brushed? Or how about experiencing a scalp massage while having your hair washed at your salon? How great of a feeling is it? Well, it turns out that we’re not the only ones who love a good brushing!
On Aug. 16, the Orphaned Wildlife Center, a licensed rehabilitation center in Otisville, NY, whose goal is to “provide safety and nurturing to animals that are truly orphaned and prepare them to be returned to a life in the wild,” posted a video that has since gone viral with over 400,000 views.
In the video, Susan Kowalczik, co-owner of the center, can be seen brushing Maddy, a 12-year-old Syrian black crossbreed bear, for over 10 minutes. With each passing minute, you can clearly see and hear how happy this 510-pound bear is to be brushed by her caregiver!
The video starts with Maddy laying on her belly, making happy grunts and almost melodic noises as Kowalczik brushes her. At 2:30, Maddy rolls over with delight to make sure her belly gets brushed.
The cutest part? Not even a minute later, you see Maddy actually lifting her furry arms so they can be more easily brushed and rubbed by Kowalczik. How special! At later parts of this adorable video, the very peaceful bear appears to have fallen asleep, or perhaps is just soaking in the bonding time.
The Orphaned Wildlife Center came to fruition in 2012 when an injured black bear cub who had been hit by a car was brought to Jim and Susan Kowalczik. After successfully rehabilitating the cub, whom they named Frankie, back to full health, they started their center on their upstate New York property. The Orphaned Wildlife Center’s mission is to provide the best environment for abandoned or injured animals to heal, with the end goal of releasing them back into the wild.
They currently have 11 bears of different species at their facility, with a majority of the being Syrian brown bears who originated from a failed breeding program in the Middle East. The Kowalcziks make it clear that the center isn’t a zoo. They’re not open to the public, though they host several tours per year at a price of a $1,000 donation for up to six people, and they don’t have viewing areas.
Moreover, there is zero staff and they don’t get paid. The Kowalcziks truly love their bears and have a “unique relationship with them,” one that is “based on endless trust and caring,” they state on their website. “We have known them all of their lives, and we will always remain committed to them.”
Further distinguishing itself from zoos of any kind, when it comes to the public physically interacting with these majestic bears, it’s a hard “no.” Both Kowalcziks have been licensed rehabilitators since 1996, and they possess a relationship with their bears unlike anyone else.
“Our PRIMARY goal is to rehabilitate and release. We want as limited human contact as we can for most of these animals,” reads their website FAQs. “The animals here need to retain a fear of humans in order to be safely integrated back into the wild.”