Timothy Treadwell: The Grizzly Man


Timothy Treadwell was a man who found a passion for grizzly bears, a passion which brought him a new meaning and a new purpose in life. A passion that would ultimately lead to his tragic demise.

Timothy had reached a point in his life where he was struggling to find his purpose, struggling to find his place in the world. Alcohol and drugs became a part of his life as he began to spiral. It is in his footage that he mentions how he got to a point where he had to stop or else it would take him to his death. It was then that he found a purpose in the grizzly bears of Alaska, he believed that he needed to go and protect them.


His passion for the bears resulted in his choice to actually go out and live with the bears, camping in the wild, to film them, study them and thereafter share his knowledge with the world. He taught at schools for free, teaching children about the bears and spreading knowledge of the creatures he had come to love so much. Thus he began his one man campaign to protect the Grizzly bear.

Some people believed in his cause and others just thought him crazy. It certainly does take a special person to choose to live in the wild amongst animals that are so dangerous. Timothy, as seen in his footage, certainly seemed to be a somewhat eccentric personality. Even so, I couldn’t help but admire his dedication for the cause that allowed him to readily put his life on the line for what he believed in so strongly, knowing that each encounter could result in his death. I feel that this was acceptable for him because, as much as he wanted to save the bears, he felt that the bears were saving him. They had become his saviour, his escape from the society that he had become to dislike more and more. The bears gave him purpose. He declares that his project was in fact his salvation from alcohol.

“I’m in love with my animal friends

I’m in love with my animal friends

I’m in love with my animal friends

I’m very very troubled….” ~ Timothy Treadwell

Timothy with one of his fox friends

Timothy with one of his fox friends

I feel that, for some people, his message may have been lost in translation somewhat in his disapproval of the government and the general consensus of society. It can therefore be debated whether or not his footage does achieve his purpose of spreading the message of conserving these beautiful creatures.

There are those that feel that his work may have been detrimental to the conservation of the bears. Arguing that by spending too much time around the bears and approaching too close to them, causes them to lose their fear of humans. Some feel that he crosses a line of mutual respect between humans and bears. In the end, no matter what opinions anyone might have, the inevitable consequence was proved by his death.

I personally believe in his passion and it was clear to see the joy that being with his bears brought him. I strongly believe that the world is in need of more people like Timothy with a passion and spirit so strong for the wildlife that he loved, knowing full well the possible dangers that he faced.


In the end, as i’m sure he knew it would be, his demise came from that which he had devoted his life to. Killed by the one of the bears he loved so much, his death was a tragic irony.

It is my belief that the more connections he made and the more time he spent in the wild, the more disconnected he became from society. This lead to, what was to ultimately be, a fatal decision. After leaving his sacred grizzly maze, he had an upset at the airport and expressing his disappointment at modern society consequently made the decision to return to the grizzly maze, the place where he felt happiest. It was late in the season and most of the bears had gone into hibernation, leaving those last few bears that desperately search for the last scraps of food that will allow them to hibernate through the winter. Timothy was thereafter killed by one such bear.

Timothy Treadwell may not have died a martyr, heroically defending the bears, but I feel pride for him in his death. Some may ridicule him and others say that he got what was coming to him, being killed by one of the bears that he dedicated his life to protect. I feel though, and is also suggested in the film, that he would have accepted that fate over any other. He was aware of how high the risk of death was. He constantly mentioned the dangers in his recordings. Still he continued, and by so doing was accepting the inevitability of death at the jaws of the magnificent beasts that he so loved.

The bears saved him and the bears were his end.

May you rest in peace Timothy in the grizzly maze that you made your home, and with the bears that you loved so much. May they live forever under your eternal protection.

Watch the documentary film by Werner Herzog here: https://youtu.be/q8MjDyfcMmU

GRIZZLY MAN, Timothy Treadwell, 2005, (c) Lions Gate

GRIZZLY MAN, Timothy Treadwell, 2005, (c) Lions Gate


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