First species of bear returns to Zoo after 40 years

For the first time in 40 years, North American black bears (Ursus americanus) are again on exhibit at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Two female bears recently arrived at the Zoo from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha and are adapting well to their new home.

The pair of young adult black bears, weighing 172 and 193 pounds each, can be found in the Zoo’s Northern Trek, which features one of the most diverse bear collections in North America.

black bearNorth American black bears, which became the Zoo’s first species of bear back in 1894, inhabited Ohio in the early 1800s until unregulated hunting and deforestation eliminated them from our area. In recent years, black bears have been spotted occasionally in Ohio but remain an endangered species in the state. The bears are moving slowly into the area from Pennsylvania, with 106 sightings reported to the Ohio Division of Wildlife in 2006.

In 1894, the Zoo’s first black bears went on exhibit at Wade Park, which was the Zoo’s original site, and were the last species to move to the current site on Wildlife Way in 1914. The return of black bears in 2007 is only appropriate given the Zoo’s yearlong celebration of its 125th anniversary. Other species on display at the Zoo include the polar, Malayan sun, Sri Lankan sloth, spectacled and grizzly bear.