American Black Bear

Ursus americanus

The American black bear is the most successful bear in North America due to its size, strength, and adaptability.

Characteristics: Black bears show a great deal of color variation. Their fur can be white, blond, cinnamon, light brown, dark chocolate brown, or black. The fur is soft, with dense underfur and long, coarse, thick guard hairs.

Adult males typically weigh between 125–550 lb, while females weigh between 90–375 lb. The biggest wild American black bear recorded was a male weighing approximately 1,100 lbs.

Lifespan: In the wild, up to 20 years. In captivity, up to 30+ years.

Habitat: Deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forest regions

Range: Throughout most of the northeast to the Appalachian Mountains almost continuously from Maine to north Georgia, the northern Midwest, the Rocky Mountain region, the west coast, Alaska.

Diet: Black bears are omnivores. Most of their diet consists of grasses, roots, berries, and insects. They will also eat fish and mammals—including carrion.

Behavior: During the cold winter months, black bears go through a dormant period where they do not eat, drink, urinate, or defecate. However, they will awaken if disturbed.

Keeper Notes: BerryBoo (female) was born in 1997 and BugABoo (male) in 1998. Both were ex-pets confiscated by the Wisconsin DNR and permanently placed at the zoo in 1998. BerryBoo is identified by the white stripe on her chest. Bug-a-Boo is all black except for his brown muzzle. Favorite food items include: avocado, honey, apples, peanut butter, and seeds.