Besides riding new bikes with an engine size that excites me big time; meeting Chris Morgan, known as the “The Bear Guy”, has been one of the most touching and wonderful experiences in the last couple of months.
Thanks to an invitation from BMW Motorrad I had the possibility to interview this inspiring soul and wish we could have spent nights out there sitting by a bonfire sharing stories, instead of squeezing my million questions into that tight event schedule of the BMW Motorrad Days a few weeks back.
“Ecologist Chris Morgan is no stranger to adventure. Over the last 20+ years he has worked as a wildlife researcher, wilderness guide, and environmental educator on every continent where bears exist. From icy polar bear country at 81° North to tropical Andean bear forests on the equator, Chris has sought adventure among the focus animals of his life – the bears of the world.”
Read more in Chris’ Biography
“It started with ants and now it’s Grizzly Bears.”
I’ve been soaking in Chris’ words as soon as he started talking about his story and about how life took it’s turns from ants to grizzly bears, from becoming a graphic designer to an ecologist. His adventurous spirit, his passion for something that others may consider “absolutely crazy” and his sensibility for nature and life itself, resonated with me strongly.
Chris’ interest for wilderness and wildlife started at a very young age with the fascination for ants and the way they build their homes. He followed bear’s footprints for the first time when he was 18 and met a bear biologist, while working at a summer school camp, who introduced Chris to bears. “Until then I was supposed to be a graphic designer, then I became a bear guy. This was my intersection.”
Even though Chris considers life itself as the biggest adventure, he truly has some breathtaking stories to tell from his exciting expeditions into “bear country”, as he calls their territory.
Places that come to my mind when thinking about “bear country” are Alaska or Russia, but bears are everywhere Chris tells us. There are eight species worldwide and you can, to my surprise, for example, even find bears only one hour outside of Rome and in Austria.
Under the Umbrella of Bears
“To save bears we have to save what they need and therefore they become representative of saving nature.” In order to protect the Sun Bear in Malaysia for example, the smallest bear in the world, all other species in the rain forest of Boneo like elephants, rhino, leopards and orang-utans, will all benefit from the protection of this tiny bear and the preservation of its territory.
“Protect bears and everything else is healthy.”
Bears and Bikes
“I’m not just all bike, bike, bike! My motorcycle is a tool; of course I use it for my pleasure but also for work. I use my bike to do fieldwork and enjoy my solitude while riding.”
Chris describes motorcycles as the most fun and efficient way into the mountains and to discover the planet. Same like me, he also experienced how wonderful a bike is to meet great people. That’s what bikes do, they take you into situations and bring you to people that you connect with or you are learning something from, Chris agrees with me.
“Community of motorcyclist is powerful”, he says. To activate interest for the wilderness, to fascinate and engage bike enthusiast for something truly important for the world, is what Chris Morgan is aiming for.
I couldn’t hold back to ask for his advise on the dilemma I’m facing daily between media presence and solitude. At this stage of The Moto Quest I am facing many decision on stepping it a level up, getting big sponsors or TV involved… where on the other side there is my craving of solitude, a humble, simple life and connection to nature and spirit.
I went rather silent in the last six months and didn’t share much about my personal life, as I realised through the fundraising that TMQ seem to have inspired many and it has grown beyond a journey that I am undertaking only by myself. The responds and feedback I received based on sharing my story authentically and honestly with you, has increased the sensitivity and responsibility I feel towards The Moto Quest and often leaves me with insecurities of how to continue and quite honestly some fears of failure or not to “deliver”…
“If you follow your true passion, and if it’s something good for the world, you can’t fail. You find a way!”
Chris’ answer made me tear up and I could hardly get another interview question out for the next 10 minutes.
Yet there was one more question that really burned on my tongue while listening to Chris stories: What were his personal experiences with the shamanic symbolic of the bear, which it has in many indigenous cultures?
He told me that only a few months ago he travelled to the Navajo country in Arizona and that he loves the believe system of native Americans and how they respect flora and fauna. The Navajo tribes worship the bears for their power, intelligence and wisdom – that’s why he love bears, Chris tells me. Tribal people believe bears can understand the human language and Chris and his team just tested this old wisdom themselves.
Watch this video to see how the bear is responding to what Chris tells him to do:
“When you are in “bear country” you don’t think about anything else”, Chris stated,
“it is the most cleansing and connecting thing with nature and who you are.”
Where are the Claw-prints leading?
Chris Morgan’s documentary “Beartrek” took six years to film and is now almost finished.
His biggest goal is to re-brand conservation, make it optimistic and fun and to bring the wonders of the wild to as many people as possible. “I want to make it more accessible and exciting.” Chris Morgan dreams of young people seeing our wonderful planet and having a life that’s adventurous, positive and inspired by a new wildlife conservation movement.
Follow Chris Morgan and support chrismorganwildlife.org!