Perhaps the only reason to see Kevin James' Zookeeper

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I'm not a big Kevin James fan, and I assume I'm not alone. "King of Queens" wasn't my thing. Grown Ups wasn't very funny, and I didn't even bother to see either I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry or Paul Blart: Mall Cop. I guess Hitch is his best movie.

Anyway, that said, I can actually recommend his newest film, Zookeeper, for one reason: the movie helps to conserve grizzly habitat in Montana.

According to a press release from Vital Ground, a Missoula-based nonprofit:

Two of The Vital Ground Foundation’s bear ambassadors will be appearing together for the first time on the big screen in the romantic comedy Zookeeper, which will be released in theaters nationwide on July 8th. Bart the Bear 2 (affectionately called Little Bart) and Honey Bump co-star in the film with comedic actor Kevin James.

Being a macho guy, Little Bart often snags the good roles. But this time his sister Honey Bump landed a co-starring role that will earn her front-end credits along with Little Bart. Granted, she plays a 14-year-old boy named “Jerome,” but she doesn’t seem to mind since it was an excuse wrestle and beat up her 1,100-pound brother—Honey Bump is a light 800 pounds in comparison—whenever she pleased!

During the three months spent filming in Boston, the two grizzly bears grew quite accustomed to stardom. According to their professional animal trainers Doug and Lynne Seus, Little Bart and Honey Bump enjoyed the pampering and attention, especially the special catering they received on set. “The favorite part of the day for the bears was when a production assistant would come by to take their food order for the next day. They usually ordered a case of fresh blueberries, watermelons, peaches and pears and oh yeah, wild caught Pacific Salmon. Ah, the life of movie stars! It made the usual chicken and apples back at the ranch in Utah look pretty ordinary,” says Lynne.

Though the bears quickly adapted to the spoils of life on set, this sibling pair hasn’t forgotten their humble beginnings. Downtown Boston is a long way from the wilds of Alaska where they were orphaned as young cubs in early 2000 when a hunter killed their mother. They survived alone for two days before an Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) officer rescued them from their den. Unable to survive on their own in the wild, the Seuses adopted the cubs at the request of ADF&G and raised the bears on their ranch.

And while the bears enjoy their celebrity status and adventures as animal actors, Little Bart and Honey Bump play a much larger role in life: they both serve as ambassadors for Vital Ground, a Missoula-based land trust founded by the Seuses in 1990 to conserve grizzly bear habitat in North America. As ambassadors, the bears are wildlife educators and “spokesbears” for the benefit of their wild cousins whose survival depends on the protection of critical habitat. The Seuses also donate a portion of the bears’ income from acting to support Vital Ground’s land conservation programs.

"With every acre of land Vital Ground protects for the grizzly, we are directly, immediately affecting the health of our planet," states Doug Seus.

About Vital Ground
The Vital Ground Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to protect and restore North America's grizzly bear populations by conserving wildlife habitat. Operating as a land trust, the organization cooperates with private landowners, local communities, state and federal agencies, and other NGOs to protect wildlife habitat resources throughout the Northern Rockies. Since its founding in 1990, Vital Ground has helped to protect and enhance well over one half-million acres of habitat crucial to grizzly bears and other wildlife in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, and British Columbia. For more information, call 406-549-8650 or visit www.vitalground.org.

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