Photo Shows Woman Attempting to Pet Bear at Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Hotel

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

The property owner, who's kicked out people in the past for harassing bears, is looking for the woman

A Gatlinburg, Tennessee, hotel owner who has kicked out several customers for harassing bears on the property is looking for a woman who was photographed while recently attempting to pet a bear on the hotel grounds.

According to wvlt.tv, the woman was photographed Sunday morning, July 31, 2022, at the Quality Inn Creekside hotel in downtown Gatlinburg. Owner Raj Patel said he was unaware of the incident until he saw the photos showing the woman extending her hand toward the bear’s mouth.

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Misty Chrismon took the photos of the woman, who she said actually touched the bear. She said after it swiped at the woman, she left it alone.

“She was petting the nose and everything, and then she put her hand out pretending she had food for the bear,” said Chrismon.

Patel, who has kicked out 10 to 15 people in the past for their interactions with bears on the property, said he’s not yet kicked the woman out, but he’s looking for her.

“We typically every week see the same four or five bears,” he said.

According to Patel, the bears have become very comfortable moving about the hotel property. They’ve managed to break into the bear-proof trash cans and have even opened the elevator doors by themselves.

Patel said he understands the guests' desire to interact with the bears, but he advises them to observe the bears from a safe distance. If they don’t, they risk getting kicked out.

“It’s not safe for the bears or the people,” Patel said.

Patel said, to his knowledge, there have been no bear attacks on the property since he came to the hotel in 2016, and he hopes it remains that way. He says Gatlinburg Police is called every time people gather to look at a bear on site.

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