The Houston Zoo will host Bear Awareness Day on Saturday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
During Bear Awareness Day, the Zoo keepers will offer camping tips with dramatic assistance from the Andean bears and grizzly bears during “Good Camper/Bad Camper Theatre” presentations at 11 a.m. (grizzly bear exhibit) and 2 p.m. (Andean bear exhibit). The keepers will also demonstrate best practices for hiking in bear country and how to make campsites “bear proof.”
The purpose of Bear Awareness Day at the Houston Zoo is to educate the public about the integral role that bears play in nature, as well as the importance of respecting biological diversity.
Black bears are a part of the heritage of Texas. Historically, black bears were widely distributed throughout all major eco-regions in Texas prior to 1820. Their last strongholds in East Texas were in the swamps and thickets of the Big Thicket Region of southeast Texas. The majority of the remaining bears were exterminated from this area during the period between 1900 and 1940.
Today, black bears are returning to their historic range in Texas. Since 1977, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has documented black bear sightings and mortalities in Texas. Observations in the 1990s indicate the return of a few black bears to the remote forests of East Texas, primarily composed of transient, solitary males.
There is no current evidence of a resident breeding population of black bears in East Texas; however, increased sightings combined with bear recovery and range expansion in bordering Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma will increase bear occurrence and activity in East Texas in the next few years.
The Houston Zoo is located at 6200 Hermann Park Drive. The Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (last admission at 5 p.m.) and from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. (last admission at 6 p.m.). Regular admission is $11 for adults, $6 for seniors, $7 for children ages 2-11 and free for children under 2.