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Visit the North American Bear Center and Northwoods Ecology Hall

The North American Bear Center is located just one mile west of Ely along Highway 169. 

The North American Bear Center is a nonprofit museum with indoor and outdoor viewing of live black bears in natural habitat with a pond and waterfall. The 2.5-acre enclosure is home to four resident bears - Ted, Tasha and Lucky, and Holly that are always within view if the large windows and balcony. The North American Bear Center has a wide variety of daily programs, and a hands-on children’s area, people of all ages learn bear behavior from the bears themselves. It is recommended to allow at least a two-hour visit for this unique, world-class experience that the whole family will enjoy!

  • Theater playing award-winning bear documentaries

  • More than 50 video exhibits of wild Minnesota bears revealing decades of scientific research

  • Brand new "Cub Room" where children play and learn

  • Interpretive nature trails

  • Birding & wildlife viewing

  • Large gift shop (sales help support the North American Bear Center)

Our Northwoods Ecology Hall (opened spring 2015) features the many animals that black bears encounter in northwoods habitats and includes the history and values of those habitats. Exhibits include a 660-gallon aquarium, terrariums with local reptiles and amphibians, a majestic bull moose mount, woodland caribou mount, and a 40-foot wildlife exhibit showcasing over 35 mammals and birds in seasonal habitat settings. Our touchscreen monitors make it easy for you to learn about all of these animals.

Chosen by Popular Science as Minnesota's Coolest Science-themed Destination in 2021

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You don’t have to go far from home to travel somewhere amazing.

Correct your misconceptions about bears at the North American Bear Center | Minnesota

Did you know that grizzly bears are 26 times more likely to kill someone than black bears? These are the type of ursine misunderstandings that the North American Bear Center works to set straight at their educational facility, essential work as global bear habitat shrinks. In addition to their indoor displays, the facility is home to four black bears that serve as ambassadors to their kind, living on 2.5 acres of a naturally-forested enclosure. Watch the bears forage, interact with other wild animals, and play in their pond from the viewing windows or the outdoor balcony.

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