Henry the Bear, Mitchell, Oregon

Photo © Cynthia Stowell, 2005.

We recently met Henry and his gentle keeper "Hugh." Henry is a 600 pound brown bear. Hugh is a Paul-Bunyan-sized man, with arms heftier than most legs! The bear is like a giant dog. Henry was born in captivity, declawed, and neutered,and used at a local boy's reform school for theraputic purposes. Unfortunately, the boys teased him. Hugh purchased him just before he was going to be put down, and has been taking excellent care of him ever since.

Under strict directions from Hugh, we all had Henry take a slice of apple from our own mouths while in the cage with the bear! We also heard some great stories from Hugh about Henry's mannerisms. Our favorite was when the bear was in mid hibernation. Henry heard Hugh talking while in the cage, came out and put his head on Hugh's shoulder for a long time, then took Hugh by the hand and tried to back into his lair with him for the rest of his winter nap.

Foot note: When we went to the Store to buy apples at Hugh's direction, the store GAVE US the apples!

There is a box for donations, but Hugh really doesn't want or expect any. He spends $135/month of his own money to feed Henry.

We had a great time in Mitchell. A long-time property owner died (George Schnee) last winter, so half of the property in town is tied up in probate, etc. The Oregon Hotel is clean and neat (if you don't mind your bathroom being down the hall and shared). The country store is also a kick.

2014 Update after another visit to Mitchell. Henry is no longer at the service station, but living on Hugh's farm out of town. (We talked with Hugh at the Cafe, which he owns.)