I have made the North American Bear Center a destination vacation for three years. The opportunity to see the ambassador bears in a setting that mimics the wild habitat as much as possible for animals in captivity, has been awe-inspiring. Learning about wild bear behavior has made me better equipped to co-exist with the animals in my rural home. You can't help but become engaged by the bears and can't help but learn something in the highly entertaining yet education-centric environment. And the web-cams make it possible to "return" to the NABC any time I want.
Kindle your relationship with Nature and the beauty of Minnesota's Northwoods, with a visit to the North American Bear Center. Young & old alike are enthralled by the beauty of the exhibits and education about the region and its flora and fauna is achieved, almost by osmosis! I have spend several days there, and haven't absorbed everything yet. So, I'll be going back as often as I can to see the live bears & the facts about wild animals including bears and how we humans can be better neighbors to them.
I had to consider *MY ROLE* because I have, in fact, never been to the NABC. Yet, I visit the website daily and have since 2010 when Lily the wild black bear was in labor in a den in the woods of Northern Minnesota, I was hooked. A thirst for knowledge of not only black bears, but nature, in general. Dr Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield has never failed to amaze me. The recent addition of little Holly as indeed been a blessing. The NABC has served to educate people throughout the entire world and has developed programs to be implemented in schools to replace misconceptions that have been ingrained in peoples minds for years about black bears with current scientific research. The NABC is on my bucket list! My experiences listed below signified by *checks* are my visits by internet and heart. :)
I really enjoyed the Bear Center. The live bears do come out of their cages and walk around a beautiful natural setting. If you are elsewhere in the Center, the loudspeaker announces when a bear is out so you don't miss it. The day I went, they were not out the entire day but for several hours. You can take photos of them from an outdoor bridge as well as watch them through a large indoor window with seating.
However, this place is about much more than just going to see live bears, and the occasional talk about them by a researcher. There are many exhibits on bear behavior, including lots of videos of bears in the wild (including footage of bears in their dens via "den cams") and other materials developed by the researchers such as recordings of sounds that bears make that can be played by pressing buttons. I also enjoyed a large exhibit on how bears are portrayed with a "fierce" image in magazines and movies, when in reality black bears just aren't that fierce. Lots of great bear photographs taken by the researchers too. For children, there is a whole children's room to teach about bears through touching things and other kid-friendly exhibits. There are some very large taxidermed animals such as a moose in addition to bears.
The NABC is one way that the Wildlife Research Institute (the research arm of the Center that studies bears and reports on the findings) educates the public. I already knew a lot about the WRI from social media, but while at the Bear Center I also had a chance to see a very nice documentary on its work with bears, which plays in the movie theater continuously. I was also privileged to take one of the classes offered by WRI researchers and learn even more about bears. This organization is the only one I know that is actively reaching out to the public about bears and getting them interested and involved.
Visit the NABC and you will probably learn some very cool things about bears. This is not simply a "bear zoo" where you take your kids to look at the bears, it's more on the level of the Smithsonian or a similar educational institution, so come prepared to learn! There are also many other ways to get information about bears from the NABC and WRI, including website updates about bears being followed by the researchers, e-mails, and social media pages. I have loved the opportunity to challenge my beliefs about bears and learn more about these wonderful creatures!
Having fear of Black Bears as a child on in to adulthood. I found the North American Bear Center. The education about bears here is GREAT! Not only do they teach you about bears but also about the life bears live and how to live with them.