Name at birth: Timothy William Dexter
Timothy Treadwell was a self-described "eco-warrior" who lived among Alaska's brown bears until he was fatally mauled in 2003. Treadwell grew up in New York, went to college for a time in Illinois and settled in southern California in the early 1980s. After a 1989 visit to Alaska he became enamored with brown bears (calling them grizzlies), and from 1990 he spent 13 summers camping in their midst, photographing and filming them and himself. When he wasn't hanging out with the bears at Katmai National Park, Treadwell was editing footage and promoting himself as the savior of bears who, it turns out, may not have needed his protection. By the late 1990s he was somewhat of a celebrity, having attracted People magazine, David Letterman and celebrity backers such as Pierce Brosnan and Leonardo DiCaprio. In 1997 he co-authored Among Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska, and in 1999 he was featured in the Discovery Network's Grizzly Diaries. On 6 October 2003 it was discovered that Treadwell and a friend, Amie Huguenard, had been attacked and killed at their campsite by one or more brown bears. His last communication from camp was 5 October; some sources list his death date as 5 October and some as 6 October.
Treadwell was a controversial figure before his death, and his posthumous fame stirred discussion about his actions. Benevolent critics consider him a well-meaning interloper whose passion for bears clouded his judgment; harsh critics say he was an arrogant charlatan who did more harm than good. A 2005 documentary by Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man, was made up of video and photographs that Treadwell shot while in Katmai.