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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

North American Bear Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal Services, Animals, Arts & Culture, Museums, Wildlife Sanctuaries

Mission: The Need for the Bear Center: Bears have been unfairly demonized worldwide in folklore, print, movies, and taxidermy. Generations have been raised to fear them or perceive them as economic risks. All 8 bear species are now listed as vulnerable, threatened, or endangered in parts or all of their ranges. Black bears, the most numerous species, are listed as threatened or endangered in 5 states but are expanding in the Upper Midwest and northeastern United States. There is a worldwide need to replace myths with facts, teach practical methods for minimizing conflicts, preserve habitat, and stop poaching for body parts. The need for accurate information becomes ever more urgent as more and more people move into bear habitat.

Target demographics: Bears world-wide

Geographic areas served: Ely, MN and all around the globe

Programs: The North American Bear Center is the only Science/Nature museum of its kind. Dedicated to replacing myths and misconceptions with facts, it lets people learn from the bears themselves about bear behavior, ecology, and their relations with humans. In addition to our onsite Learning Center, you can view our four Ambassador Bears, play in our Cub Room, watch films in our Theater and walk along our Interpretive Trail. From the comfort of your home, you can watch two live video feeds of our bear viewing area and learn and participate on Lily the Black Bear's and North American Bear Center Facebook pages. In addition, our Educational Outreach Program supplies comprehensive bear / nature curriculums and materials for K - 12th grade teachers across the country.

Community Stories

144 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Becky R

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We just love the NABC !!

I've been to the NABC many times over the past 6 years - including summer 2018. When I say many times, we live in the UK, so we tend to visit Ely for about a week at a time - and within each week we probably go to the NABC 4 or 5 times.!!


The NABC provides a unique experience to read and learn about Bears - especially American Black Bears, as well as the nature that lives in the surrounding area.

Within the bear center, there are many exhibits and video clips showing things such as bear behaviour, vocalisations, food and misconceptions. There is a theatre to watch longer bear films, and the Northwoods ecology hall which has exhibits of other animals and habitats which are found in the surrounding Northwoods area. In 2018 there is a new exhibit on Dr Lynn Rogers, who has been studying black bears for over 40 years - and who set up the NABC and has provided many of the photo's there.

The highlight though of any visit is seeing the bears !. There are 4 Ambassador bears - Ted, Lucky, Holly and Tasha - each has some information about them in the center and then you can sit and watch/ view the outside area. (either from inside or outside). The bears rotate - so are not always out in the main enclosure - or if they are in the enclosure you may not be able to see them (its about 2.5 acres)- however there is 'enrichment time' when the bears are given enrichment treats and the NABC also offers a 'behind the scenes' tour where you walk to see which ever bears are currently in their own enclosures.

There is a 'beary' good gift shop to see on the way out - and leaving Ely doesn't mean leaving the NABC as the team have web cams in various locations that allow around the year live feeds from the NABC. The staff at the NABC are all friendly and knowledgeable - often volunteering for the roles they do.

The NABC provides facts and data to make you question some of the assumptions we all have about these wonderful animals. Definitely worth a few hours of your time...….. we hope to go back again soon.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am from the UK and have always been interest in wildlife. About 5 years ago myself and my wife went to Canada and went on a trip with someone who has been studying Black Bears for over 20 years. When we got back to the UK we came across a BBC TV documentary about Dr Lynn Rogers who has been studying them for more than 40 years.

We both wanted to come to Minnesota to see for ourselves the Bear Center so we came over in 2014. We were so impressed by what the Center does in educating us all on the lives of these wonderful animals that we have comeback to Minnesota another 2 times in 2016 and also in August 2018. We have therefore seen the positive transformation of the Center over these 4 years and the additional educational features than have been added. The people who work at the Center are so committed to the project and they give such a positive perspective on the Bears. There are 4 captive bears (Ted, Lucky, Holly and Tasha) at the NABC. It is obvious that they are so well cared for and have lots of space (2.5 acres I believe) to roam around in and do what Bears do.

They operate on a small budget and most staff are volunteers who do an amazing job and are very knowledgeable. There are staff members around the Center to offer assistance with information should you be interested in learning. The building is massive and there are so many educational displays both on televisions screens, a movie theatre and beautifully presented information boards that you could easily spend a couple of days reading and watching everything there is to see. Both children and adults enjoy seeing the bears from the huge glass windows or go upstairs on to the outside deck. It is amazing to see such a heavy animal climb so quickly and easily. You get the chance to go out back on a behind the scene tour and see the bears close up too. Again children and adults have plenty to see to keep them all interested and entertained. The admission price is very reasonable and I would expect it to be at least double what it is. It is well worth the price. There is also an extensive gift shop with loads of variety. I highly recommend visiting The North American Bear Centre.

In summary the Bear Center is so lucky to have Dr Lynn Rogers spend his entire life learning about these beautiful animals and to give us this informative centre. I know we will keep coming back.

Gala M.

Donor

Rating: 5

This was an amazing place. The work that Dr. Rogers has done is out of this world. I learned so much. Will be going again!

Don- J.

Donor

Rating: 5

Great organization. Been there 3 times since 2010, an hope to visit them in 2017. The resident bears are awesome to see in person in the summer. You can also watch them on live cam daily. There are daily presentations given outside with the resident bears present by the interns that are very knowledgeable. The bears inhabit about a 2 1/2 acre enclosure , designed with the bears happiness in mind. There are also daily 'met the bears' behind the scenes tours to get up close an personal. Of course there is a fence between you an the bears, at all timers, since it isn't a petting zoo. It is worth the time to visit when in Ely, Minnesota. Please also visit The International Wolf Center, an Dorothy Molter Museum.

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2

Donor

Rating: 5

GREAT place to visit. i was there in 2013 an will go again in 2014. the bear center has brought me back to journeys to ELY,MN after many years of not going there. NABC has given me a MAIN REASON for going again. TED, LUCKY, an HONEY are so interesting to watch an enjoy. the addition of HOLLY bear in DECEMBER gives added incentive to visit. ALL the bears are greatly loved an cared for.

ANY negative comments in reviews are by a couple people with personal vendetta against NABC an people who support the organization. please ignore their untruths.

i have donated to NABC an will continue to.

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Emily22

Donor

Rating: 5

I have not been able to physically visit the Wildlife Research Institute and the North American Bear Center in Ely, but I feel as if I have. The research done by Dr Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield has been significant in opening the eyes of so many people around the world about the true nature of black bears. Along the way, Dr Rogers has taught us much about other wildlife in the area and the ecological consequences of many human endeavors...both positive and negative. We have also learned of the difficulties of dealing with the many misconceptions about black bears, even among those who should be the protectors of this wildlife resource. I donate as often as I am able to WRI and the NABC, and look forward to the long continuation of this research.

handymandy

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've been to the bear center 4 times when I've traveled to Ely for an annual gathering of bear supporters and friends. It is one of the highlights of my trip! It has so much information on bears and how to coexist with them. The recent additions and improvements make it a state-of-the art museum! And I adore seeing the resident bears, Ted, Lucky, Holly, and now Tasha. If you haven't been there it's worth the trip!

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2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been to Ely the last 3 summers for vacation. The first place I stop is the NABC. I love to go there, see the displays and see the bears. Contrary to some other reviews I've read, they do not keep the bears "locked up" in cages. They have their den areas where they rest but the bears are out a lot. I particularly enjoyed seeing Holly, the newest resident bear. This 19 month old bear is a joy to watch. It's especially fun to watch her and Lucky play and to see her start to stand up to Honey, the dominant female. The staff and volunteers are great. They are always ready and willing to help, to answer questions or to inform us of what the bears are doing and why. The gift shop has a lot of merchandise, most of which is very reasonable. I could have spent a lot of money there. I highly suggest people stop by there, especially if you have children. It's very educational. Before I started going to Ely, I thought all bears were aggressive and violent. Not so with the American Black Bear. They are gentle creatures. They are very smart. They are wonderful mothers to their cubs. Do yourself a favor. Go see the NABC.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering for this organization a few years ago. I had been following them for several years prior to that and decided that I wanted to be a part of this team, in whatever manner i could..
What I've found is that people all over the globe volunteer for this organization.These people give their time for a company that is striving to educate everyone on the scientific research information that comes from years of study.
Working with all of these wonderful human beings is such a great experience and I have learned so much from being a part of this amazing group of people. Information that was learned from my childhood has proved to be false, which gives me much knowledge to continue to grow as a person.
I strongly advocate for the North American Bear Center (NABC) and hope you find this information useful and give them a 'look'.. One of the links for more knowledge is: http://www.bear.org/website/
Their 'sister site' for additional information is: http://www.bearstudy.org/website/

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

One of the best things I ever found was the bear.org site for the NABC.I have always loved bears- Smokey Bear was my favorite book- so when I saw on the news that a bear was going to be born live on camera I tuned in and was hooked on this place. I waited and waited for days - setting my alarm hourly during the night to check if a cub had arrived yet. Then watching and hearing the new cubs was amazing. Watching them grow was amazing and the information that I learned and the old myths that were dispelled kept me coming back for more and more . Then I was asked to volunteer as a moderator. It has been one of the best experiences I have had. I can't say enough about the level of education the NABC provides to anyone interested in learning. From the cub room for the youngest visitors to seeing the live bears up close on a behind the scenes tour to learning and sharing on the chat page for those too far away to visit. You know they are doing something right when you have guests and volunteers from all over the world. People fly across the ocean to visit family- see New York and other popular destinations but to have world travelers make The North American Bear Center their destination speaks volumes about how wonderful the NABC is

5 Lisa589

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Everyone there is so inviting to answer any questions, the staff are amazing. Its a great place to learn not only about black bears but other wildlife.

6

Board Member

Rating: 5

The North American Bear Center is a wonderful educational facility. It has something for everyone. Whether you are interested in science, biology, or nature, you are sure to find something of interest. All of the displays are easy to read and understand. The videos of wild bear behavior are outstanding. You could easily spend 3-4 hours there and still not see everything. What better way than to learn directly from the bears?

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

​NABC has so much useful information on how to co-exist with black bears. As well as what to do when or if encountering them and how to prevent encounters. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Will take the time to discuss in detail any questions you have. Always very friendly. Pleasant way to start the day in the chat room chatters and moderators are the best for family friendly interactions.

6 Grace45

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My husband and I were able to drive up to Minn from Alabama to visit the Bear Center a couple years ago, we had been watching the den cam's in the wild and at the center before that, was over joyed to get to meet the staff and see the bears at the center in person. Since that visit they have done many more updates and improvements to the center, it's still on our bucket list to go back again. I have had the joy of being included as one of the online chat mod's for the bear center and have learned so much from the staff, other mod's, Doc and the researchers. I even won a personal phone call from Doctor Rogers, that was like a phone call from our own kind of Rock Star :) or should I say Bear Star, CrittersRUs

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an exceptional educational facility devoted to teaching the truth about black bears. The Northwoods Ecology Hall focuses on the other animals they must co-exist with in Northeastern MN. They have 4 resident Ambassador bears . Hourly programs are offered to see these bears close up. Worldwide podcasts daily for additional learning anywhere in the world. Numerous exhibits, videos, pictures and documentaries for additional indoor learning. Knowledgeable staff to answer all your question. A must see if you are in Northeastern MN.

4 Anita58

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This year was my 6th annual trip to NABC from the UK. Each year I have seen improvements have been made. Apart from the bears who are always a joy to watch, there is always so much to learn. Not just about bears but all wildlife of the Northwoods. The staff are always very welcoming and so helpful, always willing to stand and talk to you and answer any questions. And this year the outside has a stunning new entrance - especially seeing it at night it really catches the eye. This year there was another new bear to get to know - Tasha - a little cutie. But it was sad that dear Honey had passed on due to old age - she was a much loved bear. She has been laid to rest near the carpark with lovely tributes. It is good to know that the bears are so cared for and loved even when they have passed. I will certainly be going back next year and will look forward to it. And in the meantime I am so glad to be a volunteer, which I have done since 2011.

5 Patie M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is a fabulous educational experience. I hope many more people can visit and learn about the bears.

5 SmittenbyBears

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for three+ years with this remarkable organization that strives to replace misconceptions with facts about the true nature of black bears. I love visiting the Ely, MN Center, a truly one-of-a-kind facility. It's a treat to see the four magnificent ambassador bears that help people learn from the bears themselves. I have learned so much from the wealth of interesting exhibits, articles, photos and videos and the engaging staff that provides wonderful care for Ted, Lucky, Holly and Tasha. Even at home, I am able to visit virtually every day through the Center's live webcams and chats. The North American Bear Center, by carrying out its mission to advance the survival of bears worldwide, is helping people learn to co-exist peacefully with black bears and I am grateful to be part of that!

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great place to learn more about Bears and other wildlife. I truly enjoy visiting the North American Bear Center. The staff and volunteers are so friendly and helpful. The NABC is a very educational place and the resident bears are a delight to observe. Great place and I highly recommend that you include a stop here during any visit to Ely.

5 Sheryl K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My daughter and I had the most enjoy able time visiting the North American Bear Center in Ely a few yrs back for there Lily Pad Picnic! A great place to take the family and u get to see Ted, Lucky, Holly, and now Tasha! Please make a trip there it is beautiful and the people are so bear friendly!

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5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The bear center is the place to be to learn all about the center bears and the research bears!! Made my trip there last yr and I loved every minute of it! Every one should go in there life time! You will not want to leave. Very nice volunteers that work there and there is so much more to learn..Please mark this down on your list of things to do!!

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2 Terri86

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In the four years that I have volunteered for the North American Bear Center, I have witnessed unwavering dedication to bears. Not only has the NABC added extensively to its physical facilities, but all involved work tirelessly to involve the worldwide public in observing and learning about bears through live webcams and numerous outreach resources including speakers and materials for educators and groups. Drawing on the researchers' many decades of data, as well as their own experience, staff members are bursting with knowledge about these fascinating creatures and are just bursting with excitement about sharing it.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The North American Bear Center is one of the best attractions in Ely, MN. Visitors learn about black bears and also learn about all species of wildlife in the north woods eco system.

It can be visited for an hour or for an entire day, based on the amount of information you want to take in from the multiple displays, movies, or the "behinds the scene" tour, to see the live bears up close.

Each year there is something new and different. This is a powerful way to learn about all north woods wildlife species and is a summer adventure I never miss. ELy is very fortunate to have the North American Bear Center to educate the public about behavioral patterns of the Black Bears.