Otisville, NY

Bears have fur brushed to knit Christmas toys

Amy Christie

A group of bears living in a wildlife center after being abandoned is raining money for treats and other expenses in a unique way.

During the past few years, the bears have allowed their trusted keepers to brush their fur gently. All the collected dense fur is then spun and turned into yarn to make knitted bears for Christmas.

What are the details?

Susan Kowalczik, 63, started Orphaned Wildlife Center (OWC) with her husband's help. The center is located in Otisville, New York, and the animal caregiver has worked close to resident bears throughout their lives, gaining their trust to carefully brush their fur.

Susan starts collecting fur in spring when shedding begins for bears.

"There is fur everywhere. Some of the bears enjoy being brushed, which is the best and fastest way to gather it; the shedding season lasts a couple of weeks, and they are brushed as often as possible," Susan shared with The Epoch Times.

Even though the bears have a reputation for being "strong-willed," Susan says that the bears living in her center are used to human contact. All the staff makes sure to use only "bear-friendly" brushes to avoid any hair pulling that might upset them.

Once the fur is gathered, Susan carefully combs through it to get rid of any debris and then sends it to Jamieson Fiber Arts. Laurel Jamieson spins it into yarn and proceeds to knit teddy bears.

For this holiday season, several of Susan's friends and clients have volunteered to help knit the lovely teddy bears.

Some of the knitted teddies are toy-sized, while others are tiny enough to be used as ornaments in the Christmas tree.

"The people who follow OWC have a strong connection to the bears and always enjoy items made from their fur, especially the knitted teddy bears," Susan said.

The woman also shared footage of the brushing process featuring three brown bears, Jenny, Amy, and Sonya, who have spent their entire lives at OWC.

Susan says each of the three bears is "wonderful."

"When I hung my phone on the fence to film them getting brushed, one by one, they came over to see what I was up to; they love the attention and are happy to get involved with what's going on," she added.

Jenny is her favorite, and Susan thinks it might be mutual. Amy is "the smartest," and she usually manages to turn the camera off on any recording device just for fun.

Sonya is "sweet and playful, she loves pond time and is likely the prettiest of the three due to her white collar."

As she celebrates the residents in the center for the holidays, Susan also points out the two principles that drive OWC.

"First is to provide sanctuary to our resident bears, giving them a secure future; we also take in local orphaned wildlife, and, when they are ready, we return them to the wild. Through our efforts, we hope to encourage people to respect and enjoy our native wildlife," she explained about their dedicated work.







Comments / 2

Published by

Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

More from Amy Christie

Comments / 0