Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bear Country

Nestled over 250 acres amidst towering pines and along rolling meadows just eight miles south of Rapid City, Bear Country U.S.A. offers visitors intimate views of most North American mammals. Visitors take a leisurely three-mile drive through several enclosures and encounter black bear, elk, reindeer, deer, cougars, bobcats, rocky mountain goats, bighorn sheep, dall sheep and buffalo.
There are signs at the entrance to keep your windows rolled up. But how can you take good photos through the window?
Artic wolves. I saw them walking around until we got close, then they all decided it was nap time. Of course, I rolled down my window, trying to get a better photo. A voice over a loud speaker asked me to roll it back up. Oops!
Imagine banging heads with this baby! Ouch.
Of all the animals, the mountain lions seemed to have the most energy. I could feel their intensity. They paced constantly.

All of the animals are separated by wire fences, but their areas are large. The biggest population was the bears.
A little funny business to keep that population up.
This fellow spent all of his time pacing in front of the cattle grate, trying to figure out how to get past it. Each car had to wait while he passed in front of them. 
But by far, the absolute cutest animals in the park were the baby bears. Talk about teddy bears!
There were probably 40 of them in the baby bear enclosure. They were having a blast chasing one another, climbing the logs and little wooden houses, and knocking one another off.
The cubs are born in early January while their mothers are in hibernation. The cubs stay with their mothers for eight weeks. Then, in early March, Bear Country handlers remove the cubs from their dens, and staff members bottle feed the babies for another six to eight weeks.

Bear Country U.S.A. takes the babies from their mothers for three simple reasons: survival rate, manageability and marketability.

"In the wild only 40% of cubs see the end of their first year," says Pauline Casey. "At Bear Country our survival rate is substantially higher (98%). By human-imprinting the animals shortly after birth (2 months) we are able to manage them as adults making vaccinating and moving them much easier and safer. Lastly, we have earned a strong reputation among zoos, wildlife parks and even movie studios for even-tempered, manageable animals."

We could have watched these guys all day.


  1. That's a strange sight with so many baby bears all together!!!

  2. Strange, yes, but oh so adorable!

  3. Those baby bears are so cute!!!

  4. The cubs truly are cute but I'd still not like to meet one when they get older! Oops indeed! You'll just have to keep the windows really clean and hope for no reflections!

  5. GB, we just got a photo from a relative who recently moved to AK that was showing mama bears with young just walking along the roadway. Oh, my! I told her she was not allowed to all!

  6. Just found you through Posy gets Cosy - love your pics. Those baby bears - just like my boys when they were little. Enjoy your safari!!

  7. Thanks, Adaliza! I had little boys too, and, yes, the pictures so remind me of them!

  8. I still don't know if it is better to take the bears away from their mothers. I know animals don't feel the same as us, but it must be very traumatic. Still, if the bears are happy and contented, then it is a good thing, since they do have to live among humans.

  9. Jenny, I thought the same thing. While we were standing there, one baby was off in a corner by himself, crying. After a few cries, one of the other babies came running over and coaxed him back over into the group. Was very cute.