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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). 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.

Meet Our Bears

Closeup of Mimi, an American black bear.

Mimi

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 Virginia, an American black bear.

Virginia

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.
Closeup of Gus, an American black bear.

Gus

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.
Closeup of Yona, an American black bear.

Yona

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.

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. 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 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 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. Animal care specialists use treat-filled logs, frozen fruit, and even giant watermelons as enrichment activities for our bears—all of which encourage behaviors similar to their wild relatives!

A black bear holds an entire watermelon in its mouth.