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Two black bears in their exhibit enclosure near a pool of water.
Explore | Exhibit

Explore the Wild: Black Bears

Located in Explore the Wild, the Museum’s black bear habitat is home to four American black bears (Ursus americanus). Two observation areas offer wide views of the black bear habitat. Visitor-controlled zoom cameras give guests the opportunity for a closer look at bear behavior.

Meet Our Bears

Closeup of Mimi, an American black bear.


Born in 2004, Mimi was confiscated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Alabama, and transferred to Appalachian Bear Rescue (ABR). Too used to people to be rehabilitated and re-released into the wild, Mimi found a home at the Museum on April 10, 2006.
Closeup of Gus, an American black bear.


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 2021, Little is the Museum's newest bear. She was found near Asheville, NC, on her own at only 3 months old. Learn more about the Animal Care Team's work with Little on our blog.

Just the Bear Facts

Each year, the Museum’s bears are fed approximately 4,000 pounds of bear chow, 500 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. Our bears often become sluggish and sometimes sleep for several days during the winter, but it doesn’t actually get cold enough in North Carolina for them to hibernate. By the end of February or beginning of March, they are already starting to become more active!

Visitors stand on a vista overlooking a black bear in a pool of water.

Animal Enrichment at the Museum

Behavioral enrichment improves the lives of animals in human care by giving animals interesting stimuli and ways to express their natural behaviors. Wild black bears are always searching for a meal and will lick, bite, and claw to uncover new foods. The Museum’s animal care team provides enrichment foods each week so these bears always have something to explore. Treat-filled logs, frozen fruit, and even giant watermelons encourage behaviors these bears would use in the wild.

A black bear holds an entire watermelon in its mouth.