Black bears are North America’s most common and familiar bear, and Oakland Zoo is proudly home to three – a mother and two cubs. Don’t let the name fool you, American Black Bears can come in different shades from black, brown, cinnamon, and even blonde!
As one of the most opportunistic of bear species, the keepers are constantly making sure the bears have plenty of enrichment to fuel their curiosity. Here at the zoo the bears have the opportunity to forage, swim, play and explore their 52,000 sq. ft. habitat which designed to mimic their natural California habitat.
Our bears came to us as a result of the most common threat these animals face—the human wildlife conflict. Mom (Cambria) and her 3 cubs (Kern, Pismo, and Tejon) became habituated to humans, often wandering the Pine Mountain Country Club area of Kern County in search of food. Unfortunately, in June 2017, they brazenly entered the home of an elderly woman and Cambria inflicted a non-lethal injury on the homeowner who was trying to chase them out. Per California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law, Cambria was deemed a public safety issue and was set to be euthanized. However, CDFW considered the unique circumstances of the bears, an exception was made. The four bears were determined too habituated to humans to be returned to their natural habitat, and Oakland Zoo was in the position to provide a forever home to them! Sadly, Pismo passed away in 2018 after a battle with kidney illness, but is survived by his two siblings and mama.
You can help black bears, by decreasing the opportunities for interactions by storing trash in bear proof containers and by NEVER feeding them. Learn more from our conservation partner, the Bear League.