Doug Seus, Alive and Well

Every day for the past couple of weeks a number of people have arrived at this blog after searching for information on Doug Seus, trainer of grizzly bears Bart the Bear, Little Bart, Honey Bump, and Tank. Evidently many people have been concerned that Doug was the trainer accidentally killed while working with one of the grizzlies.

Doug is alive and well and so are Little Bart, Honey Bump, and Tank.

Sadly, animal trainer Stephen Miller of Big Bear Lake, California died from an accidental bite on his neck by Rocky, a trained grizzly bear who has appeared in numerous movies. For more information, click here.

I often post on Doug and Lynne Seus and The Vital Ground Foundation, a nonprofit organization for which I am very, very proud and honored to serve on the Board of Advisors and the Development Committee.

For those not familiar with how Vital Ground came to be, I invite you to learn about Bart the Bear and his incredible legacy.


As professional animal trainers for the last 25 years, Doug and Lynne Seus have dedicated their lives to developing new and innovative programs for the raising, training and treatment of animals. Inspired by Bart the Bear, who died in 2000 at the age of 23, Doug and Lynne wanted to do something in return for wild grizzlies, at the same time ensuring the preservation of native forests, grass prairies and all of the plants and animals that share the land with the Great Bear. Founded in 1990, Vital Ground is dedicated to that task.

The work Bart started ten years ago continues with Tank, an 850-pound nine-year-old grizzly and Bart and Honey-Bump (a brother and sister) who will carry on in his giant footsteps as Ambassadors of Vital Ground.

Big Bart the Bear

Bart the Bear died peacefully surrounded by his family and friends at his home in Utah on May 10, 2000. Bart was born in a U.S. zoo on January 19, 1977. His destiny was not to live out his 23-1/2 years in the unchanging confinement of a zoo, but to see the world and become a beloved member of a human family. He came to Doug and Lynne Seus as a five-pound bundle and grew to 1,500 pounds, standing 9-1/2 feet tall. His long film career took him and his family from the Austrian/Italian Alps to the wilderness of Alaska, all over the U.S. and Canada, and finally to the stage of the 1998 Academy Awards. He loved to be in the spotlight and relished the applause and cheers of the film crew much more than he did his salmon and blueberries.
Bart the Bear’s legacy went far beyond his film career. He is the “spokesbear” for the Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University, but his greatest role was as Ambassador of Vital Ground. Vital Ground has procured threatened wildlife habitat in Idaho, Montana and Alaska. Because of Bart’s life in captivity, many of his wild brothers and sisters are able to roam free.

Bart is survived by his human family: Doug, Lynne, Clint, Jed and Sausha, and his bear brother “Tank.” His old swimming hole was filled with love and joy when the circle of life brought the Seuses two orphaned grizzly cubs. The cub’s mother was shot 200 miles north of Anchorage. These babies miraculously survived alone for over two days when the Alaska Fish and Game rescued them. The little boy cub carries on Bart’s legacy and is his namesake. The girl cub is called Honey-Bump Bear. These cubs will follow in Bart’s giant footsteps to bring the wondrous spirit of the bear into many lives and hearts.

For more information on the work of Doug and Lynne Seus, please visit
For more information on The Vital Ground Foundation, please visit

30 thoughts on “Doug Seus, Alive and Well

  1. OH THANK GOD!! My sister told me he was killed while we were on vacation, and I literally bawled!! I just couldn’t believe it. I knew in my heart he was alive and that Bart would NEVER do that to his beloved owner. I have respected and followed thier story for years. I am so very glad it was alot of bologna!

    Becki Wills

  2. I am very sorry about Stephen, I meant no disrespect. I did not finish reading the article before I rushed to make a comment.

  3. I just watched a show on Doug and his family with the bears. Narrated by Jennifer Aniston. It was very informing on Doug and his work with the bears. I was very impressed. Him and his wife seemd to have devoted their lives to these bears. I give them kudos for caring. So much land is being taken away from our wildlife. Then people wonder why these animals end up in the neighhoods and their back yards. The land belonged to the animals fisrt and it was their home first.

  4. I just watched a show on Doug and his family with the bears. Narrated by Jennifer Aniston. It was very informing on Doug and his work with the bears. I was very impressed. Him and his wife seemd to have devoted their lives to these bears. I give them kudos for caring. So much land is being taken away from our wildlife. Then people wonder why these animals end up in the neighborhoods and their back yards.

  5. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I Love your guys show i wathed both of them and loved them. I am a total animal lover. And i have a love for each animal. It fasinated me to see how each bear or any animal has their own personality just like people. I think that people should really consider that ever living creature deserves to live. They have feelings and hearts just like us.

  6. I am continually in awe by how many lives Bart touched and Tank, Little Bart and Honey Bump touch today. The spirit in which these wonderful bears teach all of us about their wild brothers and sisters is no less than amazing. The importance of a healthy grizzly bear population is incredibly significant to the environment. To learn more, please visit

    Tim, for more pictures of the bears you may also visit

    Thank you for all of the wonderful comments!

  7. Doug – Thought I would say hello from the Suesser family of Erie, PA. George was my brother. I live in Slippery Rock and teach at a community college. I used you and Bart for one part of my final exam for the students. They had to go on the web and learn about the relationship you and Bart had and respond to the questions I asked them. (I teach psychology) They had to discuss nature/nurture – positive reinforcement, etc. They enjoyed the assignment! I hope that you and your family are doing well! Have a great holiday season!

  8. Thank you for all you have done to help save some of our beautiful land and thanks for making me smile by watching your Bear.
    You’ll are awesome!

  9. I have seen growing up grizzly 2 twice now and still love it. I think they made a great choice in getting Jennifer Aniston to narrate. I hope Doug and lynne are doing well. I adore the bears. I hope to see a new one some time. My you all have a blessed New Year.

  10. One evening several years ago, I was watching Animal Planet and to my huge surprise discovered the show called Growing Up Grizzly and I realized that this was the Doug Seus I went to high school with at McDowell High School, Erie, PA. How wonderful to see Doug in the company of Jennifer Anniston demonstrating his life with the grizzlies! Since then, I watch each time that show is repeated on TV. I was in the class of 1963, Doug, and watched you when you were a senior as our football quarterback. I grew up on Ardmore Avenue in Northwest Millcreek. How exciting to know a fellow classmate who has become so successful in such a wonderful endeavor. Congratulations Doug! P. S. I still pronounce your name ” Sice “. I can’t get used to your new pronunciation of Soose. Let us know when you visit in Erie. We might like to draft you for a speaker sometime. I still live in Erie, PA. Thanks and best wishes…..
    Adrienne (Mathes) Woods – McDowell HS class of 1963

  11. This article says Doug is alive and well, but does not mention why he has been out of the public eye for a year or so. He is one of the people in this world who has captured a big chunk of my heart, and his well-being is very important to me. Thank you.

  12. I watched a video on, named “The Legacy of Bart the Bear”, and there were tears in my eyes when Doug Seus told, how Bart left this world.

  13. god bless you doug & lynne. im from ireland, i watched the video how bart left this world, it made me sad, i loved to watch him in all the films, the edge was one of my favourites.

  14. I saw a show about a year age that featured Doug, Lynne, the Bears, and Brad Pitt (He was there because Jennifer had told him about it, and he was giving silent financial support). I loved watching it, and learning about Doug & Lynne’s work. Recently I came across a VHS called “The Bear”, featuring Bart and Youk (as a cub). It’s such a great movie. I watch it with my cat before I go to sleep. I didn’t know there were other movies about them. (I don’t have cable anymore.) I fear for our planet, the ecosystems, and the animals (I used to watch Animal Planet daily.). Beautiful and majestic animals are disappearing along with their habitats. It grieves me, for them, and for us, and for our children. I am heartened by people like Doug and Lynne, Jane Goodall, the ‘Croc Man’ that died so tragically, and all the wildlife advocates who are doing such good work. I’m retired with a small pension and can do so little. I pray each night for our world, and God’s creatures. As they go, we go with them. But I love to see these movies (I watch every episode of Nature.). I don’t know what I could do. I would love to visit one of these places, but I don’t see that happening. I will keep all of these people, and the animals in my heart, and continue to pray for them. These people are my role models and my heroes.

    • I know you wrote a long time ago, but I just thought I would let you know about my favorite movie featuring Bart. it is Legends of the Fall with Brad Pitt and Bart. The best scene is in the very end of the movie with Doug Seus playing Brad Pitt’s part, and Bart, well…just being Bart and wrestling with Doug/Brad. It is my most favorite scene EVER with Bart because Doug is in it too!

    • Richard: The world is a better place because of your presence and prayers. You’re a wonderful soul with a real talent for writing! I’m sure the Seus Family appreciates your words of admiration and your compassion for all of God’s creatures. I know I do.

  15. I am a 7th grade reading teacher. Each year I read a novel titled, Touching Spirit Bear,to my kids. I always begin with Doug’s video because I love how he talks about the trust, spirit, and respect that he employs in taking care of his bears. The you tube video left many of my students in tears and begging to see more of Doug and his relationship with Tank, Honey Bump and Little Bart. I have watched Growing up Grizzly so many times I can’t even count. I am in awe of the whole Seus family, and I always cry when I re-watch the part of the program that deals with Bart. The connection between Bart and Doug was one in a million and I am in awe every time I watch them together. Bless you both for what you are doing with Vital Ground.

  16. I got it straight that the documentary I watched was, in fact, “Growing up Grizzly”. I still watch “The Bear”, about an orphaned cub (Youk) who teams up with a giant Grizzly (Bart) wounded by hunters. (I read where it sold over 30 million copies, world wide). It is supposed to take place in British Columbia in 1885. There are no villains, because in those days hunting was legal,and even respected, just like n Africa, and when I was a kid living in the country. In those days people didn’t think of bear territory as belonging to those who lived there (even native americans were in our way). But I do remember stories of people going bear hunting and getting stalked by their prey. I don’t know if Youk is little Bart – I suppose so. What a great sequel that would have made. The two of them coming out of their cave in the spring, ready for more adventures. I saw something today about a guy who hunts bears in the Southern Alaska Archipelao, using dart guns to put them down long enough to take blood ssmples and put radio collars on them – trying to gain enough data to figure out how best to situate them. Maybe “little” Bart and a new cub could work under cover to keep the roads out. Can’t stop human expansion,though. No one wants to admit Malthus was right. Still, it would make a good movie. The Karate Cub, backed by his nine foot mentor, Grizzly Myagi.

  17. Doug, I have a friend living in Livingston, Montana, and he says that you and Bart Jr. may be in the Boulder Valley area of Montana in the summer of 2010. I understand he has met you in person, and requested a visit during the filming. He also mentioned that a guest is welcome. I do photography, just started, and Bart Jr. would be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Can I get a confirmation on this? Thank you,
    Preston Cornutt

  18. I have watched both your documentaries many times and was wondering if you will release another one with all the bears again. I also thought of you instantly with the latest death in Yellowstone and the 3 cubs that are left. I would hate to see them put down or put in a zoo. Thank you for all you do. Chrissy

  19. just looking around and saw your name pop up. last i saw you was the 20 year reunion not sure if you remember me, we were only 2 with beards, mines gone now. talk later deanbento n

  20. I worked with Doug, Lynn and Bart to accomplish a fundraiser on behalf of Vital Ground in UT with Wolf Mountain, the Utah Grizzlies and of course Bart. i was introduced to Vital Ground then and I cannot applaud enough the effort of this organization.

    Since then I’ve returned to home state of Kentucky, where coincidentally Doug and Lynn were married (Shelbyville). I hope all is well with Vital Ground and if there is anything I can do to further this very worthy effort please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    Dea Riley

  21. I admire you for the work you done for the grizzlys. Here in Sweden we have two different brownbears, the europeean brown bear and the russian brown bear.What we also have is a lot of triggerhappy-bearhating persons as germans and others that whants a fur on the wall. We are now supposed to have the largest bearpopulation in the world. Everyday I`am walking in the forrest I see bearspillings but I never feel any feer But people in general say , We are to afraid to walk in the forrest and pick berries, what to do?

  22. I have a great admiration for the work you do with the bears and for the bears. I live in Sweden and in the area I live we have as they say, the largest bearpopulation in the world.Whenever I walk in the forrest there is beartracks but I never feel any fear. Unfortunatly there is a lot of peple that say’s that they don’t can go out and pick berries and such. My fear are all the triggerhappy “hunters” we have. A wounded bear is extrimely dangerous.

  23. I am from Conroe Texas and had the wonderful priveledge of living in Alaska for 3 years where I had the opportunity to see bears in the wild while fishing. That single experience changed me as a person forever. I wasn’t familiar with the Sues family until I saw Growing up Grizzly. What a great documentary. My dream is to meet Doug and his family of humans and bears. Does anyone knowif something like that is possible.

  24. doug and Lynne. Sitting here in Tims kitchen in south carolina with mary Dunlavey your names came up and we were wondering if you are well. Mary met me in Charlotte to come see the grandchildren, the 8 of them are in the area for this Easter holiday. Carrie in particular asked about Sasha. she tried to locate her .was unsuccessful. we all send arour love to you and your family. Mary is doing marvelously still spunky. love to hear from you. Marty

  25. Doug, I have watched and marveled over how you interact with these bears. I am amazed at the love Bart shows for you when he looks at you. It shows how human kindness can change individuals and animals. I love animals and applaud what you have done with your talents. Animals can tell when someone is good, you must have the best heart out there to be doing what you are doing. It is a testament to how love can change natures. Of course bears learn to hate humans out of survival, your bears only learned love and kindness. You have a wonderful legacy. Thanks for sharing with us just a little bit of your wonderful world.

  26. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you are a great author.
    I will remember to bookmark your blog and will come back in the future.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue
    your great job, have a nice holiday weekend!

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