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Bear Awareness Week: Meet our American Black Bears

May 19-23 is Bear Awareness Week, and on Saturday, May 24, the Memphis Zoo will be celebrating with a fun-filled day of bear events and information.   

All week there have been blogs on the different bears that currently call Memphis their home.  This then leads us to the last bear species, the American black bear, which is actually the species that started it all for the Memphis Zoo.  Back in 1906, the Memphis Zoo started out with a black bear, named “Natch.”     

Currently the Zoo is home to three black bears.  “River” is our only male, and the tallest and longest of the three.  “Spring,” River’s sister, is more black and a little larger then our other female.  “Fire,” depending on the time of year, shows off a red coat and is the shortest.  They can be found in Northwest Passage, just past the underwater viewing building.   

Spring, American black bear, black bear, bear awareness week, national bear awareness week
Spring enjoys the pool in her enclosure. 

The black bear is a medium-sized bear, and despite its name, can be black, blue-gray, blue-black, brown, cinnamon or even (rarely) white.  They are North America’s smallest and most widely-distributed bear species.  It is also the species of bear that one could encounter right here in Tennessee.   

Fire, American Black Bear, black bear, bear awareness week, National bear awareness week
Fire loves to climb the poles in her exhibit. 

If you make it out to the zoo on May 24, we will help you learn how to be bear smart.  Black bears are very opportunistic eaters.  In the wild their diet consists of grasses, roots, berries, insects, fish and meat.  They can, however, easily develop a taste for human food and garbage.  This can be trouble for both humans and the bears.  Making sure all garbage is placed in a bear proof garbage container near bear populated areas, and setting up your camp,not to attract bears can help keep the bear and the humans safe.   

Here at the Zoo, our bears get a diet filled with different fruits and veggies.  Plus they get an omnivore chow, which is similar to a dog food, but made for bears.  And they get a little fish too.  They enjoy the different fruits they are offered, since they contain natural sugars.  Corn on the cob is also one of their favorite things.     

Make sure you stop by and see our black bears tomorrow.  Better yet, swing by at 11:30 a.m. for the scavenger hunt.  Keepers will be hiding different food and enrichment (toys) for the bears to find.  Will you be able to spot the different items before the bears get to it?  Come see the bears search, climb and maybe even swim to get to their favorite items!         

 -- Karen Warda, zookeeper  

Posted by Zoo Info at 10:27 AM

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