North American Bear Center

Location: Ely, Minnesota

Webpage: Wildlife Center

General Description: The North American Bear Center is the only black bear and wildlife educational center of its kind in North America.  It is dedicated to replacing old myths about black bears with facts based on up-to-date field research.  They work closely with the Wildlife Research Institute and renowned bear biologist, Dr. Lynn Rogers, to create exhibits and content.  While there are four bears in residence at the center, the main focus is to provide factual information about this very important species.ExhibitHall

Impressions:

1) Admission to the Bear Center includes a behind the scenes tour of the bear habitat and the four resident bears.  It is evident that each of the bears have their own personality and quirks.

2) For me, the main attractions were the two exhibit areas.  The first area is dominated by bear mounts of black, polar, grizzly, and a replica of an extinct short-faced bear skeleton.  However, it is the many videos of past and present research projects and factual results of the studies ranging from “vocalizations, body language, mating, fighting, nursing, hibernation, care of cubs, exiting from the den, foraging for different classes of food, and play” that were the main attraction and occupied me for over two hours.  The second area, called the Northwoods Ecology Hall, was also interesting with information about many northwoods habitats.  Exhibits include moose, elk, reptiles, fish, and 35 other mammals and birds.  There is also a great movie about a long term study of two generations of black bears.