Celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna uses pepper spray to ward off grizzly bear in Glacier National Park
The Columbus Zoo keeper and frequent David Letterman guest said he was with his wife and other hikers in Montana's Glacier National Park on Saturday when a bear cub, weighing about 125 pounds, charged them. Hanna told The Columbus Dispatch that he held up a canister of pepper spray, which he takes routinely on hikes.
"At about 30 feet, I unload my pepper spray, and the wind takes it," he told the newspaper.
But the bear kept coming. Hanna sprayed toward the animal again, but still it kept coming.
"Then the third time I unload that pepper spray right in his face," Hanna said.
The bear turned around and fled.
Hanna said he's been carrying pepper spray on hikes for 15 years, but Saturday was the first time he's used it.
The group was returning from Grinnell Glacier by way of a narrow trail with a cliff on one side and a steep drop-off on the other. They rounded a corner and saw a mother bear and two large cubs about 30 feet away coming toward them, the newspaper reported Tuesday.
"We thought of letting them go by, but the trail was cut into the rock and was too narrow," Hanna said. "So I said, 'Everybody talk loud and we'll back up until we can get off the trail.'"
They moved slowly back up the trail to a clearing.
"I said, 'Crawl up the hill and put your backs against the wall,'" he said.
Then they stood still while the mother and one cub passed by. The other cub, instead, charged toward them.
Hanna had recently filmed a message for the National Park Service encouraging hikers to carry pepper spray.
-- Associated Press
Photo: Hanna in a 2009 photo. Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press