Black bears are native to many parts of North America and are skilled at foraging, hunting, climbing, and swimming. Despite habitat loss and increasing number of human/bear conflicts they continue to have a conservation status of ‘least concerned.’ these resourceful bears inhabit forests of at least 40 of the 50 states, including all states in the Southeastern U.S. The coat of a Black Bear is shaggy and usually black but it can also be dark brown, cinnamon, or yellow-brown. American Black Bears are omnivores. Most of their diet is plant based. American Black Bears mainly feed on vegetation including herbs, grasses, roots, buds, shoots, honey, nuts, fruit, berries and seeds. They will also eat fish, small mammals, insects, dead animals and garbage. Their size varies greatly depending on geographic location and available food sources, with full-grown bears ranging in size from 150-800 LBS. The average adult female weighs 250-400 LBS and males 400-550 LBS. Although large animals, black bears are surprisingly quick and agile. They can sprint up to 35 miles per hour and climb 100 feet up a tree within 30 seconds.
Angus, an American black bear (Ursus americanus), was born in early spring 2014 and came to Noah’s Ark that summer from a small zoo that didn’t have the resources to care for him any longer. When Angus first arrived he had a large sore on his head of unknown origins but it quickly healed with antibiotics and expert care from his keepers and veterinarians. He lives with Anna Lou the brown bear, and together they entertain visitors for hours with their rough and tumble bear play. Angus is neutered so he and Anna Lou will not reproduce. Angus is more laid back than Anna Lou and sometimes retreats from her playful antics to the peace of his hay filled den.
Little Anne is a female American black bear (Ursus americanus) who was born in early spring of 2011. Food is a huge motivator for black bears, and that is exactly how a church congregation in north Georgia lured Little Anne out of a tree. They assumed she was separated from her mother by a series of devastating storms, and attempted to make Little Anne their church mascot until she was confiscated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and brought to Noah’s Ark weeks later. “Little” Anne is still fairly little, weighing roughly 200 lbs. But don’t let her small size fool you: this bear is one of the smartest, feistiest animals at the sanctuary!
Tuffy is an American black bear (Ursus americanus) born in 1997 and who spent the majority of his life in poor conditions as a privately owned pet before being confiscated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in March of 2014. Noah’s Ark was notified of his situation by a large sanctuary in California who was determined to help him although they had no room to rescue him. It took nearly six months for Tuffy’s legal situation to be resolved before he was granted release to Noah’s Ark. If we had not taken him, he would have been euthanized. He exhibits typical behavior common to bears kept in small areas for long periods of time, including pacing in circles to cope with the stress of his living situation. With time, adequate space, and enrichment this behavior has significantly decreased, although it will probably never fully disappear. Tuffy has slowly learned to trust in humans but he remains one of our more shy and elusive residents.
Anna Lou (born in 2014) is a Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), which is one of roughly ten subspecies of brown bear. Like all wild animals used primarily for public encounters or “cub petting”, her former owners took her from her mother shortly after birth in an attempt to make her less aggressive and more “people friendly”. This separation during such a crucial point in her development has made her very attached to humans, but she is displaying more and more natural bear behaviors as she ages. She is a very energetic bear and enjoys playing in water and ripping up trees and logs. Anna Lou also uses her large paws as “dinner plates” – she will pick small pieces of food up with her mouth and set them on the top of her front paws, then continue eating.