American black bear populations are healthy, but threats include conflicts with people and poaching for body parts, some of which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

What They Eat

These omnivores eat a variety of plants, fruits, nuts, insects, fish and mammals. Their diet varies by season, geography and accessibility. Unfortunately, garbage cans and bird feeders are often more convenient.

Where They Live


Throughout the United States, Canada and northern Mexico; black bears live in a variety of wooded and swampy habitats with dense cover. In Minnesota, they are concentrated more in northern counties.

What They Do


Mostly solitary, bears roam long distances in the fall to find food— especially acorns and other nuts—to increase fat reserves for winter. Mothers give birth to and nurse 2-5 cubs that are born during hibernation.

During a bear’s hibernation its body temperature drops about 10 – 12 degrees and its metabolic rate is reduced only by about half. Bears do not eat, defecate, or urinate during hibernation. As cold weather approaches, the black bear forages selectively on the richest food to build up fat adding four inches of fat and gaining 2–3 pounds a day.

How They’re Doing


There are twice as many black bears as all other bear species combined.  Many populations are actually increasing.

Black Bear map

Where in the World


North America



Temperate Forest/Taiga Prairie/Steppe

Conservation Status



Animal Facts


Length: 4 to 6 ft nose to tail
Weight:200-600 lbs
Lifespan: generally 20 years, up to 35 in zoos

Taxonomic Category


Mammal, carnivore

Where at the Zoo


Medtronic Minnesota Zoo

Female (black): Tiva (translation: “dance”)
Male (brown): Syke (translation: “he who sits at home”)
Male (black): Kuruk (translation: “bear”)

Background Information:
Orphaned in the Leech Lake Area of Minnesota
Estimated birthdates: February-March, 2010

Did You Know?
Black bears are generally more shy than brown bears.

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