Bear with him: Man grabs attention for hugging big bears

OTISVILLE, N.Y. (AP) – Bear hugs are nothing. Jim Kowalczik hugs bears. Kowalczik lies on the ground as his 1,500-pound bear buddy, Jimbo, rests a heavy paw on his waist. He feeds Jimbo a marshmallow from his mouth and laughs as a big bear tongue slobbers on his ear. If that sounds suicidal, consider that Kowalczik and his wife, Susan, have cared for Jimbo for almost 23 years, since he first came to the couple’s upstate New York haven for injured or unwanted animals as a bottle-feeding cub. “He’ll play with you all day if you have the time,” Kowalczik says after a recent horseplay session, adding that it’s fortunate the bear doesn’t throw his weight around casually. “If he lays on you, you’ve got a…

Meet LiLou, San Francisco airport's first therapy pig for stressed fliers Traveling can be stressful—one needn't look further than lengthy TSA lines, meltdown-inducing delays, and overpriced tuna sandwiches to know just what we're talking about. In an attempt to help travelers quell some of that anxiety, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has today introduced their latest team member: a small, spotted Juliana pig named LiLou who is famous enough to already have her own Instagram account, thankyouverymuch. LiLou is adorable, sure, but she's also making history. She's the first pig to be certified in the Animal Assisted Therapy Program of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the first non-canine addition to the Wag Brigade, a group of 22 trained therapy dogs that roam SFO's terminals with “Pet Me!” vests. Though...

Tanzania's Geodesic Dome Suites Are The Ultimate Forest Escape If you’re on the prowl for a romantic safari destination, look no further than Asilia Africa’s Highlands camp in Tanzania. Located in a mountain forest on the slopes of Olmoti volcano, the Highlands camp comprises eight futuristic dome suites. Each suite contains a king-sized bed, a luxurious bathroom with running hot water and flush toilets, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Serengeti.  Visitors can climb the Olmoti volcano or descend into the Ngorongoro Crater from camp. They can also drive through the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which is home to leopards, buffalo, elephants and zebra.  Best of all, the camp is eco-friendly. Highlands employs a full solar plant and collects rainwater off tents to minimize its ecological footprint. Geodesic domes are also more efficient than...

Nepalese mountain climbers risk and limb for hallucinogenic honey What do you really know about honey? It’s sticky, it's sweet and it comes from bees. But did you know some varieties of honey can kill?  This Monday, National Geographic's long-running series Explorer investigates a team of expert mountain climbers who risk life and limb to procure some of the world’s rarest honey, that's just as dangerous as the mission to get it.  Filmmaker Renan Ozturk traveled deep into the Nepalese jungle to follow a group of climbers who harvest honey while hanging off a cliff, 300 feet about ground. CAMPING ON A CLIFF? EXTREME SPORT TAKES SLEEPING TO NEW HEIGHTS The Himalayan honey bee is the largest honey bee in the world—twice as large as those found in the U.S. These bees get their nectar...

Earthquake no reason to cancel a Kaikoura holiday The Goh family weren't going to let the November 14 earthquake stop them seeing some marine life in Kaikoura. The Singaporean tourists are possibly the first to drive a campervan in to the town via the inland route. "We had planned this for a while," said James Goh. He said he wasn't too concerned by the quake. READ MORE:* Fishing, kayaking and hiking in quake-struck Kaikoura* Kaikoura businesses face 'second winter' while isolated* Positive signs for Kaikoura's tourism industry as bookings continue to come in* Bubbling phenomenon in Kaikoura could signal attraction for tourists and scientists "It happens anyway, everywhere," he said. His children – aged 3, 6, and 7 – and his wife were looking forward to a kayak trip to see the new "Hope Springs"...

Next Stop: Gems, Hidden in Plain Sight in Macedonia My guide, Slobodan (who goes by his nickname, Danko), works for one of these operators, Macedonia Experience, run by Jane Josifovski, which organizes Jeep safaris, horseback riding, caving, diving and paragliding. My visit last year came when Macedonia had been in the headlines, as hundreds of thousands of refugees had crossed the country’s southern border en route to northern Europe. And yet, Mr. Josifovski told me, overnight stays and tourism in general in Macedonia were moving at a strong clip, helped along by cheap flights into Skopje on the budget airline Wizz Air and inexpensive travel within the country. View of Ohrid from Samuel’s Fortress. Danielle Villasana for The New York Times The morning after I arrived in the capital, Danko drove me to Matka Canyon, one ...

Christmas-themed park to reopen in California after 18 years LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. (AP) - A once-beloved Christmas-themed amusement park that for decades drew Santa Claus fans to the alpine peaks of Southern California will reopen next month after an 18-year closure. SkyPark at Santa’s Village is scheduled to open on Dec. 2 in the hamlet of Skyforest near Lake Arrowhead, in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles. It’s the restart of a tourist attraction that offered colorful storybook-style cottages, candy canes and holiday-themed rides year-round from 1955 to 1998. The new 153-acre park will feature a tunnel ride, restaurants, pub and an ice skating rink. It will operate under a temporary permit until developers can win environmental approval from San Bernardino County to add campgrounds, a fly fishing pond, mountain biking trails and...

Pilot scrawls friendly 'hello' message on FlightRadar24 A pilot has spent 40 minutes flying in loops and circles to create a friendly message from above. The unidentified flyer said "hello" by following a flight path above Germany that was mapped on tracking website Flightradar24. Read more:* Pilot shares his incredible views of the Northern Lights* Pilots sacked for letting model take selfies in cockpit It's not the first time the pilot has had fun with the app that tracks flight patterns around the world. Other particularly creative drawings from the owner of the aircraft, a Robin DR400/180 Regent, include a flower and an aircraft.