HotAIR - Troy versus a Kodiak Bear


Troy versus a Kodiak Bear

Spotlighting a scientific event that may be under-publicized

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

Troy Hurtubise in the suit of armor he built and personally tested. (Photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada)

[This report was posted NOVEMBER 28, 2001]

On December 9, 2001, Ig Nobel Prize winner Troy Hurtubise will test his mettle, his metal, his home-built suit of armor, and his life against a full-grown Kodiak bear.

Troy is the winner of the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize in the field of Safety Engineering. His Ig citation reads:

Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears. [REFERENCE: "Project Grizzly", produced by the National Film Board of Canada.]

What will happen at this event? Here is an account from the November 24, 2001 edition of Troy's home town newspaper, the North Bay Nugget:

Hurtubise Suits Up For Kodiak

by Phil Novak
The Nugget

In what should become a classic case of Troy meets grrr, the North Bay
inventor of the Ursus Mark VI bear suit will allow himself to be attacked by
a 585 kilogram Kodiak.

Troy Hurtubise says he's going to climb into his virtually indestructible
body shell Dec. 9 somewhere in Western Canada - the exact location is a
secret - and stand there while the behemoth bear is brought in by a
well-known American animal trainer.

"This is not going to be a wrestling match, but a controlled attack,"
Hurtubise said during an interview in his North Bay home. "I've waited 15
years for this. 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."

It took 10 years and $150,000 for Hurtubise to perfect the 68 kg high-tech
suit of "armor", made of chainmail, galvanized steel, titanium, high-tech
plastic, liquid rubber, and 2,289 metres of duct tape.

A system of airbags that work like those in cars is located between the outer
layer and his skin is, and the legs, arms, and chest can withstand 4,200
pounds per square foot (something akin to a nice bear hug).

The suit, designed to allow the testing of bear sprays at close range, was
featured in Project Grizzly, a National Film Board of Canada documentary
directed by Peter Lynch, which grossed over $30 million worldwide and turned
Hurtubise into a cult hero. Pulp Fiction director Quentin Tarantino even
called it his favourite documentary movie of all time, contributing to the
box office frenzy.

As successful as Project Grizzly was, it lacked one critical element: a
grizzly; since much of the film was shot as bears were heading into
hibernation there were few to be found.

Now one has been found thanks to the trainer, who called Hurtubise after
reading about him on the internet and offered the use of his Kodiak, a
sub-species of the grizzly which stands 10 feet tall on its hind legs.

The scenario the two have arranged will see a dead kill brought for the bear
to feed on, Hurtubise, 37, explained, while he enters the seen encased in
his suit.

"We're hoping that when I enter the trigger zone of the bear, it will attack,
pin me to the ground, and throw me around like a rag doll. Claws, teeth,
ripping at the suit for 10 seconds."

Hurtubise fully expects the outside of the suit will be shredded, but is
confident he won't be hurt by the attack, which will be captured on film.

"I'm finally going to be able to look and say 'my God, I actually survived'.
Will I be hurt? No, because it's a controlled attack. The minute I'm in
trouble Î say to the handler 'pull him off'. But it will be one of two
things: 'I screwed up big time', or 'that's it? He was on me and I didn't
even feel him?' So I'm excited. I'm excited."

Troy Hurtubise

He's also scared. While the bear won't be able to penetrate the titanium
beneath the rubberized exterior, Hurtubise is concerned about the animal's

"Thirteen-hundred pounds pressing down on you, I don't know. Yes, the suit
can handle a truck, but the Mark VI is not strong in all areas. The
strongest part is the chest and the legs, and the bear could cave in my
upper titanium helmet. That's what I'm scared of. That's what could very
possibly happen."

Hurtubise will publicize the event Wednesday on Open Mike With Mike Bullard,
where he'll also talk about his entry in the 2002 edition of the Guinness
Book of World Records
, for the most expensive research suit ever produced.

Kodiak bears are big. Kodiak bears are powerful. We at the Annals of Improbable Research wish Troy all the success in the world, and then some.

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