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800-Pound Grizzly Bear Gets Swimming Lesson in Montana Pool

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In this photo taken Sept. 10, 2009, Casey Anderson, an East Helena native, teaches his 7-year-old bear, Brutus, how to swim and catch fish during a filming of a television show in the East Helena pool, in Helena, Mont. Anderson�s show will air on the National Geographic Channel. (AP Photo/Independent Record, Lisa Kunkel)

A 7-year-old learning how to swim is nothing new unless it's an 800-pound grizzly bear taking the plunge.

Brutus the bear slapped the water a few times then gingerly backed into the East Helena pool while onlookers gawked late last week.

Casey Anderson was teaching Brutus, who was born in captivity, how to swim and catch fish for a National Geographic special called "Expedition Kodiak," scheduled to run next year.

"I've had him since he was the size of a cupcake," Anderson said of Brutus, who served as best man, or bear, in Anderson's wedding.

Anderson grew up in the area and learned how to swim in the same pool where Brutus was getting his lesson.

Brutus, though, drew more of a crowd, and an electrified fence was put up around the pool to keep Brutus from wandering through town.

At the pool, Anderson used a fish on the end of a pole to help Brutus develop his fish-catching skills. Next up, Anderson plans to return with Brutus to the Montana Grizzly Encounter in Bozeman, where Brutus will learn to catch live fish.

Twelve-year-old Mauri Erickson walked over from her house to see the swimming lesson.

"I think it's really cool that there's a bear swimming in my favorite pool," said Erickson. "He's a lot bigger than I thought he would be."