Bears of Bearadise Ranch
A family pet has historically fallen into the category of dogs, cats, mice and sometimes even an exotic snake or other reptile. The Welde family, however is the exception. Their pets are cuddly, cute, furry, and, within the family, quite lovable. They are definitely not your average pets. To most people these are considered wild animals and rightfully so. The Weldes, however, have made their bears their pets. These pets range in size from 200lbs to 1200lbs and are in demand in fairs, festivals, theme parks, corporate outings and many other events. Their performances are raising the level of awareness of the dangers of loosing our beautiful endangered species. Scientists have now proven that if we continue to destroy our wild animals our very human existence is in jeopardy.
Bears have been part of the Welde family for nearly seventy years. Starting in Trondleim, Norway with Johnny Johnson Welde who had the dream of running away with the circus. Johnny's intense desire to learn about animals stimulated his work with horses, performing as a Cossack bareback rider as well as an accomplished aerialist. He also worked with camels and zebras. As he learned of their extreme intelligence he became fascinated with bears and they soon became his passion. By the time he was twenty-six years old he had his own trained bear act. As the years passed he performed extensively in Europe, Russia and South America. John Ringling North discovered him working with two groups of Polar bears and Brown bears during his European tour and brought him to America. It was shortly after his arrival in the United States that he, his Danish wife Tove and their young daughter Conny settled in Tampa, Florida.
As their daughter Conny grew older so did her love for the bears. She loved sharing in the extensive responsibility, care and training. In 1956 Conny gave birth to a son, Johnny III. She continued to work with the bears and her young son developed the love and concern for these incredible creatures as his grandfather and mother had.
At the age of four Johnny III was spotted by a Hollywood talent scout while walking a huge Alaskan black bear. Later this resulted in a movie career for Carroll the Black Bear. Carroll later would star in movies for Disney, 20th Century Fox and Universal as well as many appearances in major television sitcoms such as The Lucille Ball Show, Beverly Hillbillies, National Velvet and Lassie.
Today third generation John Welde III along with his wife Monica and their two children Jennifer and Johnny IV continue the tradition. The Welde children are fortunate to be included in the rearing and handling of the bears as well as being taught to respect and care for all wildlife. As youngsters they have had the opportunity to help with the round the clock hand feeding and raising of the cubs. They are also participating in educating the public to an even greater awareness of the necessary preservation of bears. They take great pride in the responsibility that comes with the continued breeding and the providing of bears to various zoos throughout the country for the purpose of conservation.
Because the human population is growing in vast numbers the bears' natural habitats are being destroyed at an astronomical rate. At one time there were 200,000 Grizzly Bears in the lower 46 states. Today there are fewer than 1,000. Some species of bears only exist in captivity.
The Welde's training methods are based on developing the natural and unique talents of each individual bear through patience, reward, love and understanding. The relationship between man and bear must be one of mutual respect. The Weldes goal is to educate the public through entertainment to promote the preservation of some of God's most beautiful and important creatures; "Welde's Big Bears".
Call Artists and Attractions to book this great act today.