By Mollie Mansfield
A father-of-four has dubbed himself the ‘Real Life Dr. Dolittle’ for owning an array of exotic pets – including a 35 STONE bear.
Jonah White, 49, has been raising wild animals his whole life – but decided in 2014 that he would make these creatures his ‘pets’.
The business owner currently has over 100 animals at his home in Hardin, Illinois, USA, – and admits to spending over £15,000 [$20,000 USD] looking after them every year.
And despite owning animals such as timber wolves, pigs, possums and even water buffalo, Jonah admits that his favourite is his 35 stone [500lb] black bear, Nibbles – and even spends time kissing and cuddling her.
Jonah said: “I’ve been called the Real Life Dr. Dolittle many times, and it’s true seeing as how many wild animals I have and look after.
“I spend over $20,000 a year looking after the animals, but to me it’s like therapy because the animals help me in many ways.
“It only takes me about one hour a day to go and check up on all of the animals, but I try to spend as much time with my bear and wolves as possible.
“But alongside this I have pot bellied pigs, sheep, dogs, possums, foxes, buffalo, birds and even used to have a skunk.
“I feel at home with all of these animals and try to treat them as though they are my pets because they deserve a lot of love.”
Jonah adopts each of his animals in order to save them from danger – and brings them to live on his 1000 acres of land surrounding his home.
He explains: “Every animal that I get is because they are in a dangerous situation, and I want to look after them.
“My bear was bought by a friend at a gas station in Tennessee – poachers had shot her mother and were about to feed her to the dogs.
“And most recently, I rescued a family of timber wolves last year who were being sold illegally by a breeder nearby.
“As I have had a United States Department of Agriculture permit for five years now, word travels that I can look after wild animals so people come to me when there’s some that need help.”
Despite treating all of his animals as if they are his pets, Jonah admits that he is sometimes scared by his wild black bear, Nibbles, who weighs two and half times the amount of an average male.
He said: “Nibbles is a massive bear – she weighs over 500lbs – so could do a lot of damage if she wanted to.
“She likes to spend a lot of time by herself, and when she is on heat can be very sharp with me which can be scary.
“I have to be extremely careful with her, because she is still a dangerous animal, and I make sure I am the only one to spend time close-up with her.
“However she has never hurt me and I let her decide when she wants me to cuddle and kiss her, and I play with her a lot too.
“But I do not consider any of my other animals, even the buffalo, as dangerous – so I can always go and spend time with them if Nibbles is having a moment!”