5 Modern Day Beastmasters Who You Won't Believe Aren't Dead

#2. Mark Dumas -- Polar Bear Man

Barcroft Media / Getty

Mark Dumas is the only man in the world who can swim with a polar bear and live to tell the tale. Well, he can do it in Canada, anyway -- despite the fact that he has a grizzly, a pack of wolves, and a few big cats at his home in California (Mark trains animals for movies and TV), the U.S. government won't let him bring Agee, his 800-pound pet polar bear, into America. Perhaps it's due to the fact that polar bears are one of the only animals that will actively hunt humans. Or maybe they're just afraid Coke's stock will plummet once the beast inevitably escapes and goes on a bloody rampage.

Hey, did we mention that Agee's a celebrity? Here she is appearing in a car commercial:

Adorable, right? Mark's raised Agee since she was a cub ... but she's not tame, because bears cannot ever be truly tamed. He freely admits that Agee would probably eat anyone else who got in the pool with her.

Barcroft Media / Getty
Pictured: not eating, we guess?

But she's been raised by humans all her life! She's probably just a big softy, right? Yeah, the same could have been said about Rocky, a hand-raised grizzly bear that sunk his teeth into a trainer's neck back in 2008. You might remember Rocky from his role as Precious in Will Ferrell's Semi-Pro. That's right: Precious ripped his trainer's throat out for no discernible reason. And polar bears are just a bigger, less sociable version of their southern cousins.

On top of that, Agee is very possessive. She gets jealous of anyone other than Mark's wife. On set, females can't speak directly to Mark -- they have to talk to his wife, who then relays the message. So Mark not only trains one of the world's greatest murder beasts, he's apparently also in a semi-exclusive relationship with it.

Barcroft Media / Getty
Burglars are not a problem.

#1. Tippi Degre -- the Wild Child

Via Tippi Degre / Facebook

Some kids have fantastic imaginary friends growing up. Others have parents who allow them to leave the safety of their vehicle to play with a quite non-fantastical leopard:

That's Tippi Degre, born in Namibia in 1990 to French photographers Alain Degre and Sylvie Robert and named after Tippi Hedren, the actress best known for being devoured by crazed birds. This Tippi was raised as a "real-life Mowgli": Her only playground until age 10 was the African bush, complete with all the classic jungle animals for playmates -- including a best friend who just so happened to be a leopard. By the way, the leopard's name was J&B (just like the brand of Scotch), which might go a long way toward explaining all of this.

Via Bel--endroit
"What did we tell you about drawing on the walls? Now you go play with predators until you've learned your lesson!"

Now we're not going to try and convince you that all of the animals Tippi can be seen cavorting with in these pictures were completely wild -- some of them were rescued orphans or came from some other type of captive situation. Her parents were professional photographers, after all, and probably took advantage of every opportunity to put their highly photogenic kid to good use.

Via Boredpanda.com
This is just a warm-up while they prepare the suit of bees.

However, it's difficult to discount the obvious ease with which Tippi interacts with creatures that could effortlessly transform her into pate. As her mother describes it, "She was in the mindset of these animals. She believed the animals were her size and her friends. She was using her imagination to live in these different conditions. She had no fear."

Tippi Degre / Facebook
"Prepare to joust!"

Grown-up Tippi is a bestselling author living in Paris, where she presumably gave up her loincloth long ago (except for special occasions, of course). Namibia is never far from her heart, though, and she once had an opportunity to return there to make a series of documentaries for Discovery Channel. We like to think that she only took the job as an excuse to catch up with some old pals.

Tippi Degre / Facebook
You know what they say: a true friend never forgets.

Related Reading: Need a little more Beastmastering today? This article will teach you how to BE one. Tickle a trout, rub a shark's nose and then read about more incredible Beastmasters. Like the Lion Whisperer and Gilberto Shedden, the man with a half-ton crocodile pet. Complete your mastery of the animal kingdom by learning how to attack an animal with a bicycle chain. You terrible, terrible person.

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