Birmingham Zoo
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North American Black Bear

Common Name

North American Black Bear

Latin Name

Ursus americanus












Ursus americanus

Geographic Range

Found in Alaska, much of Canada and North America, and northern Mexico


Through much of their range, black bear habitat is described as relatively inaccessible terrain with thick understory and abundant food sources. Black bears are typically found in forest but can be found in mountains and swamps.

Physical Description

The name black bear can be misleading. Though they are typically black in color, their colors can range from brown, cinnamon, blue/grey, and even white.


Males: 120-600lbs, Females: 90-300lbs


On average stand 3 feet tall when standing on all four feet


Average 4-6 feet from nose to tail

Life Expectancy

20-30 years


Bears are omnivorous, meaning they consume both plant and animals matter. Only about 5% of a bears diet is made up of meat and most of that is scavenged and not hunted.

Wild: Roots, berries, meat, fish, insects, grass, succulent plants, nuts

Zoo: Berries, melons, peppers, squash, peas, meat, fish, nuts, dog food, mixed greens


Mating season typically runs from June-July and bears reach maturity around 3-5 years of age. Females give birth to 2-3 cubs in January and February. Cubs are born blind and naked and remain in the den with their mother until spring. Females usually give birth every other year and the cubs will remain with the mother for 1.5-2 years.

Cultural Connection

American black bears are a prominent feature among America’s indigenous people and many Native America tribes. For example, The Navajo believed that the Big Black Bear was chief among the bears of the four directions surrounding Sun’s house, and would pray to it in order to be granted its protection during raids.

Conservation Status

Least Concern


You can help American black bears by being a good neighbor. Help bears by storing pet food inside, leaving your trash inside and covered until day of pick up, clean up you BBQ grill, and be respectful of bears space.

Location at the Zoo

Barbara Ingalls Shook Black Bear Trail located in the Alabama Wilds Trail

Our Animals

Bety and Sassy, both females

Fascinating Facts

Bety and Sassy are wild rescued bears from Big Sky, Montana. They were being fed by humans and lost their natural fear of people. Three attempts were made by Montana Fish and Wildlife to rehab the bears and release them back into the wild, but were ultimately unsuccessful and the bears were deemed nuisance and non-releasable.