These Bears Have a Job, and It Involves Destroying Coolers

When we think of bears who have jobs, the circus automatically comes to mind. Now there’s another job that bears do better than anyone. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center in West Yellowstone, Montana, is a nonprofit educational facility that houses grizzly bears that are unable to survive in the wild for one reason or another. These bears have a very specific job: to test coolers to ensure that they're bear-proof. Every spring, employees of the center fill coolers, backpack canisters and trash dumpsters with veggies, dry dog food, fish, honey, and the bears’ favorite, peanut butter. Once the containers are full, they’re put in front of the bears, who then poke, prod, claw, bite and smash the containers. The goal is to have the container last 60 minutes, by which time the average bear will give up on trying to open the container. If a container remains intact, it gets the bears’ seal of approval: a sticker depicting a grizzly’s head and shoulders and the product’s certification number. The center in Montana is the only testing site in the world where products can earn a certificate from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee. In exchange for testing, manufacturers pay a fee that covers the bears’ living expenses and the center's conservation efforts.