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American Black Bear: here’s the scoop


In general black bear populations are increasing, but they continue to be threatened in certain areas by habitat destruction, poaching and motor vehicle accidents.

Committed to Conservation

The Buttonwood Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Black Bears. Instead of focusing on breeding and genetic diversity, the Black Bear SSP manages the placement of rescued and rehabilitated bears that cannot return to the wild.

Insider Info

The Zoo was home to three black bears; Toby, Amy and Ursula. Toby was rescued from performing in bear shows. Amy and Ursula were found orphaned separately in West Virginia. When the Zoo reopened in 2000, the trio was put together and they had peacefully resided here for 20 years.

In 2020, we sadly said goodbye to our female bears, Amy and Ursula, both were 21 years old at the time of their passing which occurred just two months apart. Both bears were being treated for age-related ailments. To say these girls will be missed is an understatement, they were an important part of our Zoo family and our community. 


American Black Bear

Scientific name

Ursus americanus


Temperate and boreal forests, but they also range into subtropical areas of Florida and Mexico as well as into the subarctic


Omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, black bears diet changes depending on their location and the season. Plants, fruits, nuts, insects, fish, small mammals, carrion and human-related food are all part of their diet

Life Expectancy

20 – 30 years

Did you know?

American black bears can hibernate for up to seven months in the northern portions of their range, considerably shorter periods in more southerly areas and may skip it all together in warm climates where food in abundant year-round.


Canada, United States and Mexico

The color red represented in the map refers to where black bears are no longer found

Conservation status

Least Concern

Widespread and abundant