Beastly Beat
Mike & Emily the American Black Bears

Their Story
Alexandria Zoo's two American Black bears are Mike and Emily. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries removed the two animals from the wild, most likely the result of "nuisance" behaviors. Mike was taken in as a sub-adult, and a three-month-old Emily was removed after trying to break into a trailer. Mike was born in the wild in approximately 1996, and came to the Alexandria Zoo in 1997. Emily was born in 1999 and is believed to have been captive reared, but there are no definitive records. She arrived at the Zoo in August 1999.

Living With Bears
The black bear can be found over a large area of North America, including populations in Louisiana. After about a year, mother bears chase off last year's offspring when they are ready to mate again. These young bears are inexperienced at finding food and searching for territories of their own. They are the most likely to show up in the wrong places, usually the result of the animals' search for food. Bears are very intelligent and will continue to return to areas where they have found food in the past. Problems arise when a bear loses its instinctive fear of humans and can become a nuisance as a result. "Nuisance" behaviors can include the simple presence of a bear, property damage, or possible safety threats.

The American black bear is very adaptable and an opportunistic feeder with a varied diet. It mostly eats vegetation, including twigs, roots, berries, and young plants, but will also eat insects, small mammals, and fish. When human-related food is easy to find, bears stop seeking their natural foods. For people who live close to bear habitats, checking their property for food sources that could attract bears and removing it is an effective method of preventing human-bear conflicts.

Enrichment
As enrichment, zookeepers will scatter the bears' food around their exhibit. This encourages natural behaviors like foraging. Zookeepers will also give the bears fish to catch in their pond, and wooden logs or tree limbs with honey drizzled on them for the bears to lick. Both Mike and Emily enjoy swimming, especially during the summer.

Where in the Zoo?
The American black bears are located in Louisiana Habitat.

Click here to learn more about American black bears.