The Revenge of Robo-Bear

Canadian Man, Haunted by Grizzlies, Vows to Confront Bear in Armored Suit

By Buck Wolf

Dec. 6, 2001 --   Two events shaped Troy Hurtubise's life: nearly being mauled by a grizzly bear in 1984 ,and watching the movie RoboCop three years later.

Hurtubise, 37, a former scrap metal dealer from North Bay, Ontario, has since been trying to build a suit of armor so that he can study the largest and most lethal land mammal — a grizzly can stand 10 feet tall, weigh 1,500 pounds and move at speeds of up to 30 mph.

To some, Hurtubise is a cult hero. He's burned through more than $100,000 and gone bankrupt building a 150-pound protective suit of titanium, plastic, chain mail, galvanized steel, rubber and thousands of feet of duct tape.

To test his invention, Hurtubise has been run over by a truck, hit by a moving car, smashed in the shins with a sledgehammer, scorched with flames, and hacked at with chain saws.

In two of the more interesting experiments, he's withstood pointblank blasts from a 12-gauge shotgun and intentionally fallen from the 150-foot Niagara Falls escarpment.

'I've Waited 15 Years for This'

His story was originally told in Project Grizzly, a 1996 Canadian National Film Board documentary directed by Peter Lynch. It grossed more than $30 million. And Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino raved about it.

Unfortunately, after an NFB film crew followed Hurtubise into Alberta's Rocky Mountains, he never got to test the suit. The lone grizzly that showed up just lumbered past him.

Now, Hurtubise will try again. He'll test his seemingly indestructible bear suit against fang and claw on Dec. 9 at some secret location in western Canada.

"I've waited 15 years for this," he told the Canadian Press. "I've tested the suit against bullets, knives, arrows, trucks, logs, rocks and cars to see if I could handle the power of a bear. And now I'll find out against the real thing and see if I can put my critics to rest."

Hurtubise will pit himself and his suit against a 1,300-pound Kodiak bear, a close relative to the grizzly. It's being brought in by an American animal trainer, and will be lured out of its cage with fresh meat.