As professional animal trainers for over four decades, 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 in 1980 continues with Tank, an 850-pound grizzly, Bart the Bear 2 and Honey-Bump (a brother and sister), 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, 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.
1980 – Windwalker, Pacific International Enterprises
1984 – Clan of the Cave Bear, Warner Brothers
1987 – The Bear, Tri Star Renn Productions
1988 – The Great Outdoors, Universal
1989 – Lost in the Barrens
1990 – Giant of Thunder Mountain
1991 – The Great American West, IMAX
1992 – White Fang, Disney
1993 – On Deadly Ground, Warner Brothers
1993 – Walking Thunder
1994 – Yellowstone, IMAX
1994 – Red River, Karvkeva Productions (French)
1995 – Legends of the Fall, Tri Star
1996 – The Edge, 20th Century Fox
1997 – Meet the Deedles, Disney
Television Movies, Mini-Series and Episodes:
1983 – The Gambler, CBS TV
1986 – Down the Long Hills, Disney
1994 – Lost in the Barrens, CBS
1994 – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
1995 – Young Riders / The Decoy, MGM TV
1996 – Lonesome Dove/Deadman’s Walk, ABC TV
1996 – McKenna, CBS
1998 – Academy Awards
1980 – The Predators, National Geographic Education
1986 – National Geographic, “The Grizzlies”
1988 – National Audubon Society, “Grizzly & Man: Uneasy Truce”
1989 – Today Show
1995 – “River of Bears”, Komo TV
1995 – Entertainment Tonight
1996 – Inside Edition
1996 – Jack Hanna’s “Animal Adventures”
1996 – “Wild on the Set”, Discovery Electric
1996 – “Ordinary Extraordinary”
1997 – “Animal Minds”, Nova Green Umbrella
1997 – “Bearly Acting”, CNN Impact
1997 – “Animals on the Rampage”, Movie Magic
1997 – National Geographic Explorer
1999 – “Animal Smarts”, CBS’ 48 Hours