Tom Mangelsen awoke early on a morning in 2006 to the jarring yelp of his dog. On the back porch of his home stood a Grizzly Bear. His next encounter with the Grizzly came the following year at one of his favorite places, the Oxbow Bend. That moment inspired him to spend the next chunk of his life looking for and photographing this bear, identified as “Grizzly 399,” and her offspring around the Jackson Hole area. Tom grew up in Nebraska, hunting, fishing, and watching migratory birds on the Platte River. He yearned for someone to paint the beautiful river and birds of flight. He discovered a different way to capture an image when his professor and mentor, Paul Johnsgard taught him about photography at the age of 22. Now one of the most famous wildlife photographers in the world, he is known for his staunch position against photographing wild animals at game farms. Animals at game farms are kept in tiny cages, bred for captivity, and later disposed of once they are old and un-photogenic. “It is unethical and immoral to keep an animal in a cage,” he says and equates game farms to animal slavery. He believes game farm photographers destroy the credibility of wildlife photography by misrepresenting and exploiting animals. In all of Tom’s work, the common thread is the value of animal life.
By Hannah Trettenero