Black bear

Latin Name
Ursus americanus




Black bears can range from white (rare) to blue-black to brown. They can be six feet long and grown to 600 pounds.



Throughout North America




The most common bears in North America, black bears occupy forests, mountainous regions, swamplands and brush areas.


Black bears are solitary, roaming huge territories that overlap with other bears.

Life History

In winter, females birth two or three cubs and nurse them until spring. Cubs stay with aggressively protective mothers for a couple years before exploring the world on their own.

Special Adaptations
  • Powerful limbs and strong claws make black bears excellent tree climbers.
  • True omnivores, black bears gobble grasses, berries, insects, fish, mammals and carrion. They will develop a taste for human food and garbage, which can cause problems in areas where humans camp.
  • Unlike other bears that hibernate completely, black bears are can easily be woken from their winter slumber in dens they create underground or in tree hollows.

Bonus Content

A Birthday Treat for Papa Bear
Black bear Papa enjoyed some special enrichment at the Pritzker Family Children's Zoo to celebrate his 26th birthday. Made by the zoo's Volunteer Enrichment Group, the beehive combo featured honey on the outside with tasty browse inside.

Papa gave the hive a good sniff before digging in. The male, who shares his exhibit with younger male, Kitai, is geriatric for his species but generally in good health, animal caregivers report.

Birthday Goodies for a Big Black Bear
Black bear Papa enjoys some special enrichment at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo to celebrate his 26th birthday.

A black bear at the Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo chews on a classic Chicago bungalow.

Animals Eat the Skyline at Chi-Cow-Go
The zoo celebrated Chicago’s 175th birthday with a bovine bash. The fun kicked off with the unveiling of a redesigned "Cows on Parade" statue before moving to the rest of the zoo with Chicago-themed animal enrichment.

All Adult
Zoo babies often attrach the biggest crowds, but animals in their prime—including lions, black bears and De Brazza's monkeys—have plenty of interesting behaviors to share as well. 


ARKive Media

ARKive video - American black bear - overviewARKive image - Kermode bears, female with rare white morph cubs, searching for musselsARKive video - American black bears entering and leaving dens, thermal imaging of hibernation heat loss patterns

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