American black bear in exhibit

American Black Bear

Scientific Name

Ursus americanus

Class

Mammalia

Order

Carnivora

Range

North America

Habitat

Forests, mountainous regions, swamplands, and brush areas

Estimated Wild Population

More than 950,000
American black bear in exhibit
IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern IUCN Conservation Status: Lower Risk - Least Concern

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Physical Description

American black bears range in color from black to brown, grow six feet long, and weigh up to 600 pounds. Solitary animals, they roam huge territories that often overlap. They are classified as carnivores but often eat a more omnivorous diet featuring grasses, berries, insects, fish, mammals, and carrion. In winter, females birth two or three cubs and nurse them until spring. Cubs stay with the female for a couple years before venturing into the world on their own.

Interesting Fact 1

Unlike other bears, black bears can easily wake up from their winter slumber.

Interesting Fact 2

Bears living near camp grounds often develop a taste for human food and garbage. Habituated bears are often killed to prevent attacks on humans.

Interesting Fact 3

Powerful limbs and strong claws make black bears excellent tree climbers.

Animal Care staff working with seal

Commitment to Care

Lincoln Park Zoo prioritizes individual well-being over everything else. Guided by scientific research, staff and volunteers work to provide the best welfare outcomes for each individual in the zoo’s care. 

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Two Chilean flamingos in exhibit

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Asian small-clawed otter in exhibit

Wish List

The Wish List is full of one-of-a-kind items for the zoo’s animals, including nutritious snacks and enrichment items to keep them active and healthy.  

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Wildlife face many daunting challenges—some global, like planet-wide climate change, and some that affect individuals, like an animal ingesting plastic—but now is not the time to despair. None of these problems are too big for us to come together and solve.

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