Vital Ground ambassador Bart the Bear II, who worked in films such as Dr. Dolittle 2, Into the Wild, and Evan Almighty died last week at the age of 21.
On Monday, Ryan Lutey, executive director of the Vital Ground Foundation, announced that Bart passed away peacefully on November 15th at home in Heber City, Utah. Due to old age, Bart’s health began to decline earlier this year.
“Bart the Bear II lived a supremely outsized life filled with the love and care of his trainers and lifelong companions, Vital Ground co-founders Doug and Lynne Seus,” Lutey wrote on the bear’s memorial page. “[He] leaves behind a line of film credits to which any actor would aspire, from Into the Wild to Game of Thrones to his recent role in a highly popular ad by our partners at Kodiak Cakes.”
Bart worked on multiple Hollywood blockbusters and small screen hits during his lifetime. Vital Ground founders Doug and Lynne Seus famously trained the grizzly to follow in the original Bart the Bear’s footsteps. And Bart became famous enough to earn his own IMDb page. The bear worked alongside actors like Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Redford. And he even appeared on an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Scrubs.
Bart the Bear II was the Face of Grizzly Conservation Organization Vital Grounds
Bart spent his life serving as Vital Ground’s ambassador. The Missoula, Montana-based land trust protects North America’s grizzly populations by conserving their natural habitats.
“He leaves an enormous legacy of grizzly bear conservation,” Lutey continued in his statement. “During his two decades as a Vital Ground ambassador, Bart’s charisma helped conserve and enhance hundreds of thousands of acres of habitat for his fellow grizzlies and all the species that share their range, from elk and moose to bull trout, butterflies, and plants.”
Bart and his sister, Honey Bump, moved to Vital Ground after a hunter orphaned them in Alaska’s Wrangell Mountains. The bears found their new home just as Bart the Bear I was diagnosed with cancer.
“At first, we called him Little Bart. But when he reached 1,400 pounds, he became simply Bart the Bear II,” the Seus’s said in a statement.
“Where the grizzly can walk, the Earth is healthy and whole. Bart was a grizzly who walked the Earth with intelligence, power, grace, and purpose,” Lynne Seus said after his passing. “All of us who knew him were made more whole by his incomparable spirit. We will miss Bart greatly, and his memory will inspire us as we work to ensure his massive footprint endures for future generations across the wild landscapes of grizzly country.”