campus news & events

Colby-Sawyer College to Host Presentation by Author and Bear Expert Ben Kilham

NEW LONDON, N.H., Oct. 1, 2007 – Colby-Sawyer College will host a presentation by bear expert and author Ben Kilham on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7 p.m. in Wheeler Hall in the Ware Campus Center. Community members are welcome to attend and admission is free.

Kilham has spent the past 10 years raising orphaned or abandoned bear cubs for release back into the New England wilderness, and has gained notoriety for his practice of being a surrogate mother to the cubs he rehabilitates.

While most methods of bear rehabilitation favor minimal human contact, Kilham has opted for a more nurturing and affectionate approach. He bottle-feeds the cubs and raises them in his own home until they are old enough to be moved outside. Then he teaches the bears how to forage for food in the wild, and aids their practice of ritualized behavior necessary for their survival.

To date, Kilham has raised 35 orphan black bears for release into the wild. Wildlife experts believed that Kilham's methods would be unsuccessful and would result in nuisance bears that would be drawn towards human contact, but all but a few have managed to make the transition successfully.

Kilham is credited for increasing the amount of information regarding the behavior of black bears, using the cubs as a window to analyze the behavior and physiology of the species. He has since written a book on his experiences, titled Among the Bears: Raising Orphan Cubs in the Wild, published in 2002.

Over the years Kilham has received a number of bites, bruises and scratches from his work with bears, but he has always walked away without serious injury. “You got to be with them to learn from them,” he says.

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-Marc LeBourdais

Marc LeBourdais is an English major and currently works as an intern in College Communications at Colby-Sawyer College.

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Students from 25 states and five foreign countries learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience. Visit us on the World Wide Web at

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000