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Grizzly bears destroy campsite

Posted by: Ric Brewer, Communications

This past Saturday we celebrated the fourth Bear Affair, our annual event that provides tons of information about bear species around the world. The centerpiece of the event, and perhaps the most highly anticipated activity by zoo visitors (and maybe the bears!) is the non-safe campground demonstration. This entails recreating a human campsite within the brown bear exhibit in our Northern Trail zone. The campsite is complete, including a tent, barbeque equipment, clothing, sleeping bag and a cooler---basically all the equipment one would take along on a camping trip. The twist is that instead of storing food safely away from bears--in airtight bags 15 feet or more up in a tree, in bear safe containers--everything is left casually around the site.

And this is what happened...

Julie Hopkins, a field coordinator from our conservation partner, the Grizzly Bear Outreach Project, narrated as the bears were let out to discover the bounty left strewn about. As the bears tore into the tent, bounced up and down on the food-stuffed cooler and generally caused campground havoc, tips were given on how to avoid this scenario on your campsite. In addition, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department gave demonstrations at the Northern Trail of their new Karelian bear dog program. Using a trained Karelian bear dog, the breed originally from Finland, troublesome bears are found and then relocated to areas safely away from human sites.

Thousands of people showed up for the day and also got to hear talks about gray wolves, and our other bear species at the zoo, sun bears and sloth bears.

Photos by Dennis Dow and Ryan Hawk


Anonymous said…
Hello! Did anyone from the zoo record video of this year's Bear Affair event? I saw some of it online via the webcam, but I had to work, so I missed a big chunk of it... :(
We did, but we're still working on editing it. You can, however, see from a previous year on our YouTube channel:
Anonymous said…
Ah - very cool! I have seen the other one before on YouTube a while back. I'd love to see the event in person some day, but it wasn't possible this year - :( It definitely proves how dangerous it can be if you leave your campsite in a careless state!