Animals of Montana Wildlife Visuals with an Edge Sat, 03 Dec 2016 19:51:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 We Can Bearly Wait for Fall Wed, 07 Sep 2016 21:38:14 +0000 Summer might be coming to an end but wildlife photo opportunities are not! Nature offers a buffet of beautiful berries and seeds for the hibernating animals to feast on while the leaves begin to turn from verdant greens to yellow, red and oranges. Vibrant red and bright purple are the Sugar Maple’s gift to our camera lenses.

deme-bears2Fall; a time when the red willows line river banks throughout Montana and tell stories of earlier times when the indiginous people made baskets and tools. Bozeman’s Cottonwoods and Aspens brag of beautiful hues of gold and the White-tailed Jack Rabbit begins its transformation.
Alas, the eagerly anticipated cool air, coffee in hand and the smell of wood stoves burning and bonfires crackling. Its a time of calm and coziness. We want wool sweaters, warm drinks and friends and family to share them with.
We invite all of you to visit this fall and experience the playfulness of the grizzly cubs, watch wolf pups galevant through the field or work with one of our mountain lions. The lion standing strong and fierce with it’s nose to the wind, eyes intensly focussed on your lens and the leaves blowing and crumbling among the crisp fall breeze. You will be awe inspired with animal interactions. Treat yourself to the ultimate outdoor experience!

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“Hot Dog” Blog Fri, 19 Feb 2016 20:51:00 +0000  


The proverbial pooch has more than a “long” history behind its humorous hot dog credentials. Other than the obvious elongated body we wanted to know the real facts about this little frankfurter.

The question came about one afternoon when someone had made the comment that badgers, American badgers, are “bad asses”. There seems to be a common misperception, we thought. The American badger, identifiable by their distinctive lightning bolt shaped, head-markings and their huge fore claws are commonly compared to a wolverine, a member of the mustelidae family. Thus, the obvious comparison and ferocious, character assumption.

Badger and DachsBULLET 2016

Bullet the badger!

Our ever so popular culture, saturated with superheroes and internet fads has helped to create a fierce variation of the, “true” American badger when in-fact this furry, little walking footstool has been fought and hunted for centuries by Germany’s little sausage sniper, the dachshund.

In German, “Dachs” means badger and “Hund” means dog; thus, dachshund = badger dog. So who’s the “bad ass” now?! Does this mean the badger loses its superhero status or can we defend its predaceous demeanor? The badgers are definitely the biggest and toughest of the dachshunds quarry but it’s probably not saying much when you’re up against a “wiener” dog.

The wiener dog acknowledgments date back to the early 1540’s when royalty along with local foresters demanded destruction of dangerous pests, (such as the badger), so they could enjoy their land and more important forms of hunting with their prestigious guests. The dachshund’s characteristics make it difficult to tangle with and well adapted for fighting pests historically, such as the badger.

Drum roll please…. The name “wiener dog” was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1852 by a popular butcher in town. The butcher was not only well known for his delicious frankfurters but his lovable, little dachshund. The ever so obvious resemblance between the two led the butcher to name one of his popular frankfurter recipes, the Dachshund Sausage.

It wasn’t long before sausage vendors began selling dachshund sausages outside student dormitories and local events. The vendor carts eventually became coined as “Dog Carts”. The first recorded use of the term Hot Dog, according to Yale University was in 1895 although it hadn’t caught on until 1902 at a Giant’s baseball game.

Now, I know most of us have eaten a hot dog at a baseball game, after all, it is a favorite American pastime… eating that is. I know that one of the best parts of the purchase is flagging down the vendor who’s yelling “Get your red hot dog heeeere!” In 1902 the phrase commonly used was “get your dachshund sausage while it’s red hot”.

A cartoonist leaped at the opportunity to capture this iconic pastime and quickly through together a sketch of a frankfurter with a tail and short, little stubby legs, not knowing what breed of dog or the history of the butcher’s buddy and captioned it “Hot Dog”!! The name stuck and from that day forward the wiener dog whether it be for eating and/or walking, has conquered our hearts, our super bowl commercials and our stomachs!

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Birds of a feather flock together,… Or do they? Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:46:06 +0000 Sometimes in the animal kingdom you will see unlikely friendships. We have seen elephants befriend dogs; birds cuddle up next to cats and of course the adorable “Friends Furever” Android commercial that advertises bonds across boundaries.

No one can forget the orangutan tipping over at the end of the commercial, exhausted after a game of chase with his frisky k-9 buddy.

Our mountain lion cub “Smokey” and his little companion “Yowa” a Canadian lynx think they are littermates. When animals grow-up together they don’t necessarily know that one isn’t the same as the other. Once they are no longer juveniles there could be consequences for the smaller, weaker species; in this scenario Yowa, the lynx.

We have several species here that you may have seen in Yellowstone National Park, which is not far from our facility, including the American bison, badger, wolf, grizzly, black bear and more!

The wolf–bison predator prey relationship has existed for thousands of years in North America. At A of M we find another cross-species pairing between the two “Tonka” the bison and “Grey ” the timber wolf.

“Awly” the black bear has also hung out with “Adam” the grizzly on several occasions in a very large area or enclosure where typically these two lovable giants would avoid one another. Grizzly bears would be the provokers in the wild.

These attachments can arise for all different reasons especially for animals in captivity. Some studies have shown, and I have to say I agree with some of the studies and belief that “choices animals make in cross-species relationships are the same as they’d make in same-species relationships. Some dogs don’t like every other dog.” – Laurie Wiegler.

In 2014 you may have heard about another unlikely pair in the news, Bonedigger the disabled lion and his friendship with the handsome little sausage dog, Milo. We enjoyed their story!

Lion and Sausage Dog

Click HERE to read more!

Check out some of our favorite photos and a few of Animals of Montana’s own “oddly endearing” animal encounters.

facebookPup and tigerDemetri and catsDSC_5263


Bob on the Prowl

Bob on the Prowl ~ Jerry Fornarotto

Thanks for reading!:)



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Wildlife Photography Tours – Moab Utah Wed, 29 Apr 2015 01:08:23 +0000 Wildlife Photography Tours – Moab Utah

The red sands and impressive rock formations aren’t the only thing that Moab Utah has to offer. Moab attracts all types of outdoor adventures from mountain bikers and dune buggy enthusiasts, to rock climbers and rafters. For the photographer, novice to advanced; you’re bound to capture breath-taking images of everything this fabulous community has to offer.

We love Moab for several reasons, mainly the people of course but the weather and the variety of stunning landscapes, which include canyons, waterfalls, rivers, red rock formations, mountains and forests filled with golden aspens that keep us coming back.

Early morning shoots are the best! It’s an incredible experience to watch the mountain lions leap from one side of a canyon to the other while the sun slowly starts to rise beyond Fisher Tower. After a day on location we love to eat! Eddie McStiff’s is usually the first restaurant on the list for the week! There is a little something for everybody from burgers and beer to fancy salads, wraps and wine.

mountain lions








Take time out during the day to rent a buggy or a bike for an hour or two. Steve, over at Dirt Seekers Rentals can help you out! He will be able to give you the scoop on riding locations and great off-road photo opps!

Moab or Bust! Hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading:)





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A Bison Tale Tue, 28 Apr 2015 01:09:22 +0000 The camel is the ship of the desert but in an ocean of snow, here comes the buffalo.
Trained BisonWait! Is it actually a buffalo? Or a bison?
Early American settlers called bison “bufello” due to the similar appearance between the two animals, and the name “buffalo” stuck for the American variety. But it’s wrong!
The American Bison lives only in North America, while the two main buffalo species reside in Africa and Asia. A small population of bison relatives called the European bison (Bison bonasus) lives in isolated parts of Poland.
Links for more info on the history of the American Bison
Training a buffalo is nothing like training a tiger of course but its behavior is certainly along the lines of predatory. A bison is often secure from predation due to their size and strength in the wild and will stand their ground against wolves, bears and humans to protect their young and other members of the herd.
 Bison kill more people in Yellowstone National Park than any other animal, including the grizzly even though the bears are scrutinized for it!
It’s the most unlikely of friendships but Tonka has befriended a pack of wolves, the housedogs, his human trainers and A of M’s little black bear, Buckey.
Without having to engage their instinct to fight or protect themselves in the controlled environment that we provide, these animals know nothing other than play time and companionship. The key is to acclimate not aggravate.
One of the training methods we use is called shaping. It’s useful for teaching an animal how to do something in stages. For example, Tonka has been learning how to wear a saddle and enter a horse trailer on his own. Anyone who has worked with large animals, horses or livestock may know how stressful and scary it can be for them. Tonka began trailer loading by walking up to the trailer, looking inside the trailer, smelling it and calmly walking away. This can take days or maybe even months depending on your animal.
Today Tonka loves his trailer and is happy to load on his own at the drop of a “bottle of milk”. His favorite.
Unlikely Friendships                                    Bison Buddy
Thanks for reading!:)

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Coffee with a Lion Mon, 27 Apr 2015 01:10:58 +0000 First and foremost, we wish to express our sincere appreciation and gratitude for all of your kind and thoughtful emails of condolence. Mufasa’s spirit will live on through those of you who had the opportunity to meet him and share the experience with family or friends, as well as the thousands of people who captured our hearts with beautiful images him.

We would like to share a photo and poem written by a good friend and client of Animals of Montana. This photo was taken in April of this year. The last paw prints he will have ever left in the red sands of Moab Utah.

“I remember lowering my camera after a couple minutes at “my turn” to go up close with Mufasa the first time in Moab, and then just staring at him from 2-3 feet away, thinking “how many times do you ever get to smell the breath of a lion and count his nose boogers?”. I could see the reflected clouds and the morning sunburst in his eyes. I glanced over at Troy, and smiled when I saw the corner of his mouth curl upwards as he gave a barely-noticeable nod….

Mufasa was…..sooooo…..ya….that…..







and that…..






and that…..

Sleepy Lion






The tear stains are now ours…






So sleep lion, truly loved, and we will see you in our dreams.

Sleeping Lion






No matter where your path leads”…

Foot Prints






Photos and poem by: K. Banks

We would also like to share a clip from his visit to Minnesota last Easter and the amazing turn of events that left an entire community wanting “more” Mufasa! Please click on the link to view the clip: “Lion on the Prairie”




It never seizes to amaze me the surprising effect animals end up having on people, especially the ones that seem the most skeptical and the least open to a connection or affection.

Take prison inmates for example and the number of new programs being established. It’s a powerful connection that an animal and human can develop where each has the ability to help create a renewed sense of purpose. I think we learn remarkable lessons from nature and inevitably, undeniable truths about ourselves. The simple lessons we can learn just from watching, listening and analyzing all of Earth’s little critters and their behaviors ultimately can be applied to our own beliefs and methods for living. Read more about animals and prisoners at:

Can animals’ survival instincts shed additional light on what we know about human emotion? NYU neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux poses this question in outlining a pioneering theory, drawn from two decades of research that could lead to a more comprehensive understanding of emotions in both humans and animals.

For the same reasons that we study the universe and subatomic particles there is intrinsic interest in the study of animals. In view of the amount of time that television devotes to animal films and the amount of money that people spend on nature books there is much more public interest in animal behavior than in neutrons and neurons. If human curiosity drives research, then animal behavior should be near the top of our priorities! ~Charles T. Snowdon

We wish everybody a happy and healthy holiday season! Thanks for reading; we hope to see you soon!

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SPRING IS IN THE BEAR Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:07:48 +0000 We know that connections to animals can improve our quality of life and vice versa. We also know that such simple gestures as petting a dog or cat or even watching goldfish swimming around in a bowl can contribute to the reduction of stress levels.

There is a new wave of animal therapy that seems to be helping with medical conditions. Whether it be an “Alert Dog”, used to detect Type 1 Diabetes in patients, cancer support critters who help encourage those who have been suffering to fight harder or animals that have gone to great lengths to save human lives. There is an undeniable connection between animals and humans. I think photographer Gregory Colbert best describes it through his work as a “common ground that once existed when people saw themselves as part of nature and not outside of it.” – See more of Gregory’s amazing work at:

There are many ways animals large and small can effect human health. Take a look at another article posted by David Braun of National Geographic describing the importance of human-animal interaction research.








Adam is a grizzly bear, one of A of M’s favorite critters. The word grizzly actually comes from the word “grizzled”, like the golden and grey tips of their hair that you see. Adam is a pretty good size bear weighing in around 750lbs and standing close to 9 feet tall on his hind legs. Most males weigh anywhere between 400lbs-800lbs and females between 300lbs and 500lbs.  Believe it or not Adam can run up to 35 miles per hour, he is also a great swimmer. For those of you that have ever been to Animals of Montana maybe you have seen him swimming in Brackett Creek!

Fun Facts: Know Your Bears – Look for a combination of characteristics



  • Color varies from blond to black.
  • No distinctive shoulder hump.
  • Rump is higher than front shoulders.
  • Face profile is straight.
  • Ears are taller and less rounded than grizzly ears.
  • Front claws are 1-2 inches long and curved to facilitate climbing.



  • Color varies from blond to black.
  • Distinctive shoulder hump.
  • Rump is lower than shoulder hump.
  • Face profile appears dished in.
  • Ears are short and rounded.
  • Front claws are 2-4 inches long, depending on the amount of digging the bear does, and are slightly curved. Claw marks are usually visible in tracks.

Color and size can be misleading and should not be used as identifying features.

~Thanks to Western Wildlife Outreach and Center for Wildlife Information  


There is nothing that says spring better than youth. If you enjoy photography and the outdoors take your children outside and capture moments of them interacting among friends, loved ones and nature. If you don’t have any kids take your pet out to fine tune your skills.



Flowers are always a fun and colorful subject to shoot during spring so are the fresh dew drops after an early morning rain. Experiment with the use of a flash; take pictures with and without to determine which one gives you the sharpest color. Also, keep in mind the composition of your subjects; a well-set scene will make for a fantastic photo. Check out some quick wildlife photo tips at:

We are so excited for the new arrivals this spring! Just a friendly reminder to sign up for A of M’s Young at Heart Baby Tour June 6-8 2014.  Please call or email us for details!


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Lions, Tigers and Doberhuahuas! Oh My! Wed, 12 Feb 2014 20:45:14 +0000 The Patriot’s have clinched their first Super Bowl title and while millions of viewers watched in either disbelief or delight the debate continues, is it Peyton Manning or “Puppy Love” that ends up winning over our hearts?

It seems that super bowl advertisers have been boasting the bonds between people’s love for animals and the most unlikely of pairs. Budweiser’s puppies and clydesdales, Sketcher’s 2013 ad, which features a cheetah and a gazelle or Audi’s hilarious hybrid, the “Doberhuahua”- just to name a few, have tugged on both heart strings and humorous bones over the years.

Our draw to critters has not been due to recent Super Bowl ads or savvy marketing ploys but a deep-rooted reason created by a mechanism in our brain that research claims dates back hundreds of millions of years when vertebrates were first evolving.

It’s no surprise that when we see a beautiful wolf photograph taken by artist, Jerry Fornarotto, ( or a silly snowball fight with A of M’s favorite Canadian Lynx, captured by photographer Fabienne Chevalley, that it deems an emotional reaction.

J Fornarotto 2   natayawa3 (133 x 200)   natayawa2 (133 x 200)   natayawa1 (133 x 200)


No matter cute or cuddly, ugly or dangerous, a critter can elicit a very strong response in the part of the human brain called the amygdala.

If you would like to learn more about the evolution of the human brain and how animals inherently are able to trigger an emotional response from us, check out an article written by Jennifer Viegas by clicking on the link below!

Thanks for reading!:)

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Small Business Badasses Wed, 08 Jan 2014 17:09:33 +0000 New years resolutions are upon us. We squabble and squander over changing our habits, starting new hobbies, losing weight, gaining time and attempting to start fresh.

We focus our minds on future and finances and begin to clear a path for new and creative endeavors. We reminisce about the years past and question whether or not we’ve “done it right”?!

Have we been good mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, teachers or students? Have we made mistakes and learned from them or taken time to savor our successes?

What is it that a new year brings that for a split second we challenge our beings, our self worth, question our contributions to society and our relationships?

It’s the paradox of society. Humans, although primarily self-serving; crave cohesiveness and camaraderie. Thus, a New Year commands reflection!

Thank you to all of A of M’s close friends family and clients for support, inspiration and encouragement. We are excited about all of the new opportunities, fresh ideas and friendly faces that the new year will bring!






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Bustin’ Butts Sat, 07 Dec 2013 19:40:58 +0000  

The boys have been busting their butts out in the blustery wind and snow to finish up Mufasa’s new home. It’s crunch time before the temps drop below zero.

Demi and African Lion Mufasa DSC03299 - Copy (400 x 297)

Creating works of iron, titanium and steal art, can demand hours of intensive labor. At times the task of designing and welding is a calculated science and at others, systematic chaos. Its stamina and strategy that go hand and hand to design and construct each one of the animal’s enclosures. A labor of love, the A of M boys might call it.

Tis the season to enjoy friends and family, celebrate the simple things and find reasons as to why cold weather might have its benefits. I said, MIGHT.Snow for example, it saves you from in surmountable hours of yard work and how could anyone not enjoy the rigorous activity of shoveling? Its excellent exercise, right?!

We love to whine about winter but the fact of the matter is misery loves company.

Here are my top 10 reasons why we should all love winter:

  1. Warming up! Whether it is with a heater or a hot toddy.
  2. Fireplaces. Need I say more?
  3. Ugly Sweaters.
  4. Weather-Related Excuses
  5. Hoar Frost. Yep.
  6. The urge to sing Christmas songs at any given moment.
  7. Good eats.
  8. Practical, not fashionable footwear. Snoopy slippers and flannel onzies with footies are acceptable.
  9. The first walk through a fresh snowfall.
  10.  Movie channels and macaroni and cheese…. With hot dogsJ

There are certainly a variety of outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy in the winter. Let the snow inspire and break out those cameras!


“Awly”, A of M’s black bear on Location:

Awly Black Bear 2 - Copy (300 x 452)

Awly Black Bear 3 - Copy (400 x 266)Awly Black Bear 4 - Copy (400 x 292)

Click on the links below to check out helpful websites for some mildly unique, fun outdoor activities and “How-To”, shoot winter scenes and wildlife,  photo tips.

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