Grizzly bears and humans will compete in tests of “strength, speed and stamina” on a new television show, the Discovery Channel announced Thursday.
Human contestants will attempt “challenges inspired by what bears do naturally in the wild”, including rolling giant logs, and a “monumental game of tug of war,” the channel said.
A short video clip uploaded by Discovery on Twitter showed a man hurdling a pile of logs while a grizzly appears to chase him in the background.
The new series comes two years after a Discovery Channel special saw Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps “race” against a great white shark.
— Discovery (@Discovery) October 31, 2019
On that occasion, some viewers were left underwhelmed when the programme featured Phelps swimming solo, shown alongside a computer-generated image of a shark.
Programme-makers did not provide further details on whether the competitors on Man vs Bear would come face-to-face on the show.
Staged fights between bears and humans, including wrestling and boxing, were popular in Victorian times but largely disappeared in the 20th century over concerns about animal cruelty.
But programme-makers said the animals on Man vs Bear are never forced to compete, and are “rewarded handsomely with their favourite treats before, during and after every event”.
Been sitting on this for quite some time but I am thrilled, humbled and honored to share: https://t.co/g00jiMfLAX
Thank you, @Discovery for believing in me, challenging me and elevating me.
This is going to be EPIC! pic.twitter.com/T86r5FvKlH
— Brandon Tierney (@BrandonTierney) October 31, 2019
The competitions are “designed around the exercise routines they regularly follow — a combination of encouraging natural grizzly instincts and actions,” it said.
The programme is filmed at the bears’ Utah wildlife sanctuary, in the presence of animal welfare consultants.
According to its website, the centre has provided animal stars for television shows and movies including Game of Thrones and Dr Dolittle 2.
Two of the bears featured on the show were rescued by a park ranger after being orphaned by an Alaskan poacher, while the third was born into captivity.
The show premieres on December 4.