updated 7/27/2010 8:06:22 PM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio — TV host and zookeeper Jack Hanna says he took his own advice and used pepper spray on a grizzly bear headed toward him.
The Columbus Zoo keeper and frequent David Letterman guest said he was with his wife and other hikers in Montana's Glacier National Park on Saturday when a bear cub, weighing about 125 pounds, charged them. Hanna told The Columbus Dispatch that he held up a canister of pepper spray, which he takes routinely on hikes.
"At about 30 feet, I unload my pepper spray, and the wind takes it," he told the newspaper.
But the bear kept coming. Hanna sprayed toward the animal again, but still it kept coming.
"Then the third time I unload that pepper spray right in his face," Hanna said.
The bear turned around and fled.
Hanna said he's been carrying pepper spray on hikes for 15 years, but Saturday was the first time he's used it.
The group was returning from Grinnell Glacier by way of a narrow trail with a cliff on one side and a steep drop-off on the other. They rounded a corner and saw a mother bear and two large cubs about 30-feet away coming toward them, the newspaper reported Tuesday.
"We thought of letting them go by, but the trail was cut into the rock and was too narrow," Hanna said. "So I said, 'Everybody talk loud and we'll back up until we can get off the trail.'"
They moved slowly back up the trail to a clearing.
"I said, 'Crawl up the hill and put your backs against the wall,'" he said.
Then they stood still while the mother and one cub passed by. The other cub, instead, charged toward them.
Hanna had recently filmed a message for the National Park Service encouraging hikers to carry pepper spray. ~associated press story~
The bear CUB attacked them.... the bear CUB. Not the mom, but the baby.
This was only weeks before we drove into the park and if it could happen to Jack Hanna, it could happen to anyone. Obviously, the bear cub didn't know who this man was. Children have no respect for their elders these days.
So.... we decided that we would NOT be going on any long hikes with or without a guide, with or without other people. We also went into a store in Apgar Village, at the west entrance, and these spray cans of what they call Bear Spray were $50.00 a can and it's recommended that you take two of them with you. That was the clincher.
The problem is that something happens to you when you get into this park. I think it's some kind of hypnosis. All of sudden you see this....
You forget everything else that made sense before you drove into the park. This is a magical place. The view sweeps you into another world. Lake McDonald's Rorschach like reflections ink-blot impressions on your emotions that eliminate any reservations you had about not being safe.
You stand on the edge of astounding beauty and the Grizzly bear becomes one small part of the wilderness before you. The Black Bear, Elk, Mountain Goats and the Bighorn Sheep exist only as a part of the whole and therefore seem far less ominous.
This is the first psychological test that greets you as you step onto the edge of this great preserve. It is a deceptive loveliness that takes away your safety net and makes you vulnerable.
Standing on the edge of this lake I think I could hear the earth breathing....