Grizzly bear
Photo by Christopher Ives

Teton Totem

Teton Totem, a coastal brown bear, came to us as a child of divorce. A woman had bred him for movie work, but then had to move and was unable to take care of him. Our resident celebrity, he appeared in commercials, professional photo shoots, and documentary films. Well into his twenties, he was a seasoned emissary for his bear constituency, often moving people to tears with his gentle, powerful presence. Remarkably, he invented a kind of bear sign language, with which he communicated his wants to humans. He was also seen doing bear yoga to stretch his back, which was once injured. He loved pears and mangos.

At 24 years old, our beloved grizzly bear succumbed to liver and kidney failure related to old age. Always a magnificent presence, Teton Totem was an emissary for his species who displayed all of the qualities of a powerful, intelligent, healthy brown bear. He also possessed a unique, fully-formed personality that supported the realization that every living being is a true individual in addition to being a member of a species. He could be playful, cranky, frightened, communicative, pensive, and something indefinable yet profound. These expressions and other forms of communication were received by many visitors, resulting in transformational experiences that forever impacted the humans who were fortunate enough to meet him.

“From the moment I met Teton Totem, an enormous grizzly bear, I was mesmerized. I could not understand why he touched me so deeply. Did he recognize my lack of connection with wildlife and nature? He reminded me of what I had forgotten. My life will never be the same.”

Janet Morgan, CEO of Sequent Management

Photos of Teton Totem

Stories About Teton Totem

Note: Many of our posts are collections of stories about multiple animals at Earthfire. The animal you’re looking for may not be shown in these post previews, but each post does contain a relevant story. 

Grizzly bear surrounded by rocks and bushes

The day I was told of the passing of Teton Totem, one of Earthfire’s resident grizzly bears, many emotions washed through me: sadness, shock, and disbelief. However, what resounded within...

Grizzly Bear surrounded by aspen trees
A Journal Entry by Environmental Educator Deb Matlock

One of the most beautiful things in life is when we are touched at our very core. When our preconceived notions are shifted dramatically in an instant, when what we...

A broken fan and extension cord outside a domestic bear's enclosure

It was hot. Very, very hot. Teton has a thick bear coat and even in the shade it was difficult to cool him off. It bothered us. What could we...

Grizzly bear surrounded by rocks and bushes

It was an invitation that brought me to Earthfire. As the digital content manager, I have the luxury of working from home—an arrangement that suits my introverted heart just fine....

Mango cut up into squares

A timid knock sounded on my hotel door the night before I was to return home from a family wedding. I opened it and there stood Cece, a sweet little...

Grizzly bear in an enclosure

It is late February. It is cold and blizzarding. Will someone please explain to me why Teton Totem decided to rouse himself now, of all times? I rush to the...

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