(INSIDE EDITION) A New York State animal lover gives new meaning to the phrase "bear hug" in a sensationally popular video featuring him and his 1,500-pound pal.
Jim Kowalczik, who helps run the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Otisville, is seen hugging and giving a back rub to Jimmy, a 21-year-old Kodiak bear, in a video posted to Facebook on January 2.
Eleven million viewers have since watched the amazing video - but Kowalczik told INSIDE EDITION that it was nothing special.
"We post a lot of them, this one's just blown up," said Kowalczik, who runs the sanctuary with his wife Susan and their colleague Kerry Clair.
While shocked by the video's popularity, Kowalczik is nothing if not thankful.
"It's overwhelming to say the least," he told INSIDE EDITION.
Since the video went viral, Orphaned Wildlife has seen an uptick in both monetary donations and food for the bears that viewers have become so enamoured with.
Kowalczik said he's raised the bear in the video, Jimmy, since he was just months old.
"He's very affectionate, loves attention," said Kowalczik. "They're like our kids."
Jimmy is one of around a dozen bears of several species that call the sanctuary home. Jimmy, the largest of them all, was born with a leg issue that would never have allowed him to survive in the wild, Jim said.
While some viewers find videos of Kowalczik playing with such huge animals shocking, Kowalczik said its just a day at the office for him.
"For us, this is just what we do," he said. "It's our life."
In fact, the sanctuary is such a large part of their lives that Kowalczik and company pay most expenses out of pocket.
Someone asked for video of Jim and Jimbo playing. I found this on my phone! :)Posted by Orphaned Wildlife Center on Saturday, January 2, 2016
Photos: Orphaned Wildlife Center and INSIDE EDITION.
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