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North American Bear Center

Nature or Wildlife Centre
Resident bears at the North American Bear Center

The North American Bear Center is the only Science/Nature museum of its kind. Dedicated to replacing old myths with facts, it lets people learn from the bears themselves about bear behavior, ecology, and their relations with humans.

It goes beyond written text and lets people learn from the bears themselves. People “meet” wild research bears and follow their activities through live den cams and frequently updated videos. Attitudes change as the bears themselves refute our most deeply held misconceptions. The new trust-based research methods that make all this possible are revealing more about black bear life than was previously possible. This kinder and gentler research combines with modern technology to allow researchers and the public to learn together. By replacing misconceptions with scientific facts, the North American Bear Center is changing attitudes about these mostly timid animals. As people learn the truth about these magnificent animals, they become more willing to coexist.

  • Meet ambassador bears Lucky, Ted, Honey and our 2 new cubs!

  • View from inside or from our observation deck

  • Learn behaviors directly from the bears themselves

  • Watch over 60 close-up videos detailing wild bear life

  • Enjoy educational programs for tots to seniors

  • Fun awaits young kids in the Cub Room

  • Walk our interpretive nature trails

  • Browse Northwoods wildlife photo gallery

  • Shop Bear Necessities museum gift store


1926 Highway 169, Ely, Minnesota

(One mile west of Ely)





"I teach in the Green Bay Area Public School District and I use the Den cams as a teaching tool for students. The students absolutely love the NABC and WRI websites. There is an unbelievable amount of resources available that are fun ways to learn for students. Recently I had the opportunity to bring a couple of students to North American Bear Center. The staff there is phenomenal and the Center has great exhibits. The students learned the truth about bears and about the fabulous research that is being done. I wish that every student had the opportunity to experience this wonderful place that is in Ely!" -- C.H.P., Green Bay, WI

Accessibility Notes


Great things await you inside!

A wall of windows overloooks the bear enclosure with its pond and waterfalls. Subtle background sounds of bears foraging cubs nursing, and birds singing fill the air.

High definition video footage of wild black bears, brown/grizzly, and polar bears, let people learn from the bears themselves. They include vocalizations, body language, mating, fighting, nursing, hibernation, care of cubs, exiting from the den, foraging for different classes of food, playing and weekly updated videos on bear activities in the woods around Ely. Many of the videos are based on Chief Biologist of the Wildlife Research Institute, Dr. Lynn Rogers' trust-based research methods which combine scientific observation with modern technology that reveal more about black bear life than was ever learned with traps and tranquilizers. Attitudes change as bears themselves refute our most deeply held misconceptions.

Ambassador Bears...Ted, Lucky, Honey, and Holly

The Bear Center is also home to our three ambassador black bears living in a 2.5 acre naturally forested enclosure with a pond and waterfalls. The bears forage on a variety of wild foods in the enclosure. The bear enclosure is a model for how captive bears live as natural a life as possible. Our staff and bear educators care for and work with the bears in many ways to enrich their lives.
The bears can be viewed from the inside viewing windows or the outdoor viewing balcony—both offer an excellent view of the pond and waterfall area that the bears frequent. People watch their interactions as they play, forage, swim, scent-mark, vocalize, climb trees, hibernate, and just be bears. In the process, these ambassador bears give viewers insights into the behavior of black bears that most could not see elsewhere.

The Cub Room

The Cub Room beckons kids of all ages to explore the world of black bears. Children and cubs learn by play and socialization. The Cub Room allows exploration by touch, and educational displays that can be manipulated and colored. The man-made den allows kids to act like bears and crawl inside and explore.


The Bear Center features a theater playing Dr. Roger’s research through his many documentaries including the BBC’s “Bearwalker of the Northwoods”.

Interpretive Trails

Learn about trees, plants, wild bear foods, bear and animal sign while taking a casual walk on our quarter-mile interpretive nature trails. Trails are self-guided but guided walks occur throughout the day.

Bear Necessities Gift Shop

Shop our large selection of bear-themed merchandise and unique custom-made products. Enjoy the Northwoods Wildlife Gallery. Or when you get home visit our website at to purchase online.

Daily Programs & Events

Visit our website or call the Bear Center for the current list of programs. Ask about our Photographers' Special—a program that allows photographers an up-close photo opportunity with the ambassador bears. Telephone for more information about programs and events. Toll free877-365-7879.

Northwoods Ecology Hall...Coming Soon!

The recently completed 8,000 sq. ft. addition to the Bear Center will house the Northwoods Ecology Hall and Hope Learning Center. Exhibits will showcase the best of nature that the northland has to offer. Look for a 2015 Grand Opening!


Curriculum and Resources for Educators can be found at

Accessibility Notes

The North American Bear Center is a fully accessible facility.

Call for group rates (15 or more)

December and January - Will open for groups of 15 or more with 24-hour advance notice

218-365-7879 Toll free:877-365-7879

Eco-Friendly Notes


The mission of the non-profit North American Bear Center is to advance the long-term survival of bears worldwide by replacing misconceptions with scientific facts about bears, their role in ecosystems, and their relations with humans. People will not co-exist with animals they fear.
There is a huge need for accurate information about bears worldwide.

Bears have been unfairly demonized for centuries. Exaggerated perceptions of danger historically led to eradication campaigns using bounties, poison, trapping, and shooting. All eight bear species around the world are now listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered in all or portions of their ranges. People are now occupying remote habitats that once insured isolation and protection, and the attitudes of these people will determine the future of those populations.


2014 --- February Open Fri and Sat 10-4 | March Open Fri and Sat 10-4 | April Open Fri and Sat 10-4 | May 1-22 Open Daily 10-5 | May 23-Sept 7 Open Daily 9-7 | Sept 8-Oct 10 Open Daily 10-5 | Oct 20-Nov 31 Open Fri & Sat 10-5

Seasons Open

OPEN May through November | CLOSED December & January (groups by appointment)


Adults and Teens $9.50 | Seniors 65+ $8.50 | Children 3-12 $5.50 | Children under 3 Free | Members Free

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