Oh my! Early next year, you’ll be able to visit our newest Zoo member: a 20-month-old female Florida black bear. Her arrival comes as we continue to work closely with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to provide a permanent home for Florida black bears who cannot remain in their natural habitat due to unfortunate circumstances.
The young female, who is currently unnamed, came to us in August and has already formed bonds with keepers, who have been providing her with daily interactive enrichments. They report that she is very smart, curious and attentive. Our veterinary and animal care staff conducted a wellness check and found the bear to be in good health.
She was brought to the Zoo after FWC responded to a report of a Tallahassee-area woman feeding dog food and water to a bear. Because the animal became accustomed to receiving food from this woman, she did not know how to care for herself without interacting with humans; this could have resulted in a tragic incident if the bear remained in her natural habitat. Had she not found a permanent home under professional care, the bear would have been euthanized.
The bear habitat will be built in the Wild Florida loop where the red wolf yard currently is. The wolves have been moved to a behind-the-scenes area of the Zoo with more privacy.
As Florida’s largest land mammal, the native black bear is one of our most successful conservation stories. From just several hundred bears in the 1970s, there are now over 4,000 of the animals inhabiting our state. However, as their natural habitat shrinks and the human population grows, the species faces more conflicts with people. We hope that in building the bear habitat, we can provide guests with the chance to learn more about coexisting with these animals.
We are excited to have the opportunity to learn from these amazing animals, including our young bear who will serve as an ambassador for her species.
As part of the Give from the Heart appeal at the Zoo’s annual Safari Under the Stars fundraiser in April, attendees and additional donors contributed more than $200,000 to this project. If you’d like to make this critically important space a reality, contact individual giving manager Tracy Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org or 321-254-9453, ext. 234.