Today: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
three our of our four bears standing on rocks

Explore the Wild: Black Bears

Outdoor Exhibit
Opens at 10:00 am
  • /assets/2348/bears3_800x600.jpg
  • /assets/2348/bears2_800x600.jpg
  • /assets/2348/bears1_800x600.jpg

Located in Explore the Wild, a six-acre woodland habitat and thriving wetland site where you can use the tools of a wildlife biologist, the Museum's black bear habitat is home to four American black bears (Ursus americanus). An observation deck provides unobstructed views of the black bear habitat while visitor-controlled zoom cameras offer guests the opportunity for a one-of-a-kind look at bear behavior. 

a close-up of our bear sitting down

Meet Our Bears


Born in 2004, Mimi was confiscated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Alabama, and transferred to Appalachian Bear Rescue. Too friendly to be rehabilitated and re-released into the wild, Mimi found a home at the Museum on April 10, 2006. 


Born in 2005 and orphaned as a cub, Virginia Wildlife officials determined Virginia was too comfortable with human contact to be safely released into the wild. She arrived at her new Museum home on June 2, 2005. 


Born in 2006, a fishermen found Gus on a trail at Briery Branch Lake and Virginia Wildlife officials determined he was not a good candidate for release. Gus arrived at the Museum on July 12, 2006. 


Born in 2009, Yona arrived at the Museum by way of our friends at Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR), an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of bears. While at ABR, Yona was very interested in human contact and as a result would have a difficult time thriving in the wild. Yona arrived at the Museum on January 15, 2010.

two bears walking together

Bear Keeping at the Museum

Each year, the Museum’s bears are fed approximately 3,500 pounds of bear chow, 1,000 pounds of nuts, and over 2,500 pounds of produce or dried fruit — in addition they dig up bugs and eat grass and other plants in their yard. While our bears often become sluggish and sometimes sleep for several days during the winter, it doesn’t actually get cold enough in North Carolina for them to hibernate. By February they are already starting to become more active!

a bear eats a large slice of watermelon

Animal Enrichment

Behavioral enrichment enhances the quality of animal care by providing environmental stimuli that encourage animals to express natural behaviors. For black bears this includes behaviors such as licking, clawing, or tearing. Keepers use treat-filled logs, frozen fruit, and even giant pumpkins as enrichment activities for our bears - all of which encourage behaviors similar to their wild relatives!

two people look on to our four bears in their enclosure

Meet Our Animal Keepers

Learn what it’s like to care for our black bears at a daily Meet the Keeper program. Program themes and location rotate weekly between black bears, lemurs, and red wolves exhibits. View daily schedule.

Plan Your Day at the Museum 

View Daily Programs