From Nick Jans, a Grizzly Maze Indeed
On October 5, 2003, Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend were eaten by a grizzly bear or bears in Alaska's Katmai National Park.
Published October 7, 2005 | Issue: Fall 2005
Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend, Amie Huguenard, were killed and eaten by a grizzly bear or bears on October 5, 2003, in Alaska's Katmai National Park. Huguenard and Treadwell, a self-proclaimed bear protector, were camped in what he called the Grizzly Maze, an area criss-crossed by the animals' trails. Experts in bear behavior call Treadwell's close encounters with the grizzlies suicidal. His supporters call Treadwell, the subject of the Werner Herzog documentary Grizzly Man, a "bear whisperer."
Nick Jans '77, a 25-year Alaska hand, erstwhile bear hunter, and author of three previous books, interviewed Treadwell's friends and critics for his newest book, The Grizzly Maze. He tracked the trail of this charismatic "saint, sinner, wise man, fool" who lived among the Katmai grizzlies for 13 summers, gave them cuddly names like Mr. Chocolate, and imitated their behavior to close the gap between human and animal.
Scientists scorn Treadwell's procedures, which resulted in the deaths of two people and two bears. Treadwell defenders cite his organization, Grizzly People, his appearances as a pitchman for bears in films and on television, and his many visits to elementary schools to educate kids about his beloved grizzlies.
Bears play a large part in myth and popular culture"Pooh, Yogi, Smokey, Teddy, and Goldilocks's threesome among them. Jans looks beyond Treadwell's life and death to his own lifelong fascination with bears, which parallels Treadwell's spiritual kinship with the grizzlies. The mysterious power of these creatures eventually led Jans to hunt them with a camera.
One interviewee suggests that the grizzly that killed Treadwell saw him as "just another bear." Treadwell is an object lesson in commitment to a cause, Jans says in this even-handed account of the man who lived among bears to become like them. Treadwell's story offers hope that protection will expand the habitat for the magnificent animals he loved.
The Grizzly Maze is reminiscent of Jon Krakauer's nonfiction stories about wilderness adventures and misadventures"a well-paced and compelling tale. Even though readers know it will end with a train wreck, it's hard to stop watching. "Robert Gillespie