Alaska News

Disney movie about Alaska bears hits theaters

A movie featuring an Alaska brown bear sow and her two cubs hits silver screens across the country today.

The movie -- simply titled "Bears" -- follows mama grizzly Sky and her two cubs, Amber and Scout, as they struggle and frolic in Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve.

Dr. Jane Goodall, the famed naturalist best known for her work with mountain gorillas in Africa, accompanied Disney producers during filming. While filled with cute and cuddly moments, the film also presents the harsh reality of living a "big wild life." The plot highlights the 50 percent mortality rate of brown bear cubs in the wild. Sky spends her summer protecting her two cubs from large male bears, wolves and other dangers around them.

While brown bears are listed as "threatened" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Lower 48 states, in Alaska they are numerous, and Katmai is the site of an annual gathering of the large predators each year as they feast on salmon returning to local streams to spawn. Producers said they chose Sky as the mother bear to follow because she seemed more relaxed around their film crews than other bears in the area.

Shot over the course of two years, "Bears" had a world premier showing in Homer on Thursday. Disney is donating a portion of every ticket sold in the first week of release to the National Park Foundation.

Sean Doogan

Sean Doogan is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.