Bears are mammals of the family Ursidae. Bears are classified as caniforms, or doglike carnivorans, with the pinnipeds being their closest living relatives. Although only eight species of bears are extant, they are widespread, appearing in a wide variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere. Bears are found on the continents of North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.

Common characteristics of modern bears include large bodies with stocky legs, long snouts, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and short tails. While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous, and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous with varied diets.

With the exception of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals. They are generally diurnal, but may be active during the night (nocturnal) or twilight (crepuscular), particularly around humans. Bears possess an excellent sense of smell and, despite their heavy build and awkward gait, are adept runners, climbers, and swimmers. In autumn, some bear species forage large amounts of fermented fruits, which affects their behavior. Bears use shelters, such as caves and burrows, as their dens; most species occupy their dens during the winter for a long period (up to 100 days) of sleep similar to hibernation.

Bears have been hunted since prehistoric times for their meat and fur. With their tremendous physical presence and charisma, they play a prominent role in the Arts, mythology, and other cultural aspects of various human societies. In modern times, the bears' existence has been pressured through the encroachment on their habitats and the illegal trade of bears and bear parts, including the Asian bile bear market. The IUCN lists six bear species as vulnerable or endangered, and even least concern species, such as the brown bear, are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. The poaching and international trade of these most threatened populations are prohibited, but still ongoing. Continue reading


The giant panda is native to south central China. It is easily recognized by the large, distinctive black patches around its eyes, over the ears, and across its round body. The name "giant panda" is sometimes used to distinguish it from the unrelated red panda. Though it belongs to the order Carnivora, the giant panda's diet is over 99% bamboo. Giant pandas in the wild will occasionally eat other grasses, wild tubers, or even meat in the form of birds, rodents or carrion. In captivity, they may receive honey, eggs, fish, yams, shrub leaves, oranges, or bananas along with specially prepared food.

The giant panda lives in a few mountain ranges in central China, mainly in Sichuan province, but also in neighboring Shaanxi and Gansu. As a result of farming, deforestation, and other development, the giant panda has been driven out of the lowland areas where it once lived.

The giant panda is a conservation reliant vulnerable species. A 2007 report showed 239 pandas living in captivity inside China and another 27 outside the country. As of December 2014, 49 giant pandas lived in captivity outside China, living in 18 zoos in 13 different countries. Wild population estimates vary; one estimate shows that there are about 1,590 individuals living in the wild, while a 2006 study via DNA analysis estimated that this figure could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. Some reports also show that the number of giant pandas in the wild is on the rise.

In March 2015, Mongabay stated that the wild giant panda population had increased by 268, or 16.8%, to 1,864 individuals. In 2016, the IUCN reclassified the species from "endangered" to "vulnerable" (it did not believe there was enough certainty yet to do so in 2008). While the dragon has often served as China's national symbol, internationally the giant panda appears at least as commonly. As such, it is becoming widely used within China in international contexts, for example as one of the five Fuwa mascots of the Beijing Olympics. Read more ..

Mystery Of World's Only Captive Brown And White Panda Solved With Genetics
  IFL Science - March 5, 2024

Unique Albino Panda Spotted in China, Sans Eye Mask
  Science Alert - June 2, 2023

Why pandas are black and white   Science Daily - March 3, 2017
Scientists who answered why zebras have black and white stripes pose the question to pandas. The giant panda's distinct black-and-white markings have two functions: camouflage and communication. The study found that most of the panda -- its face, neck, belly, rump - is white to help it hide in snowy habitats. The arms and legs are black, helping it to hide in shade.

Sun Bears

The sun bear is a species in the family Ursidae occurring in the tropical forests of Southeast Asia. It is the smallest bear, standing nearly 70 centimetres (28 inches) at the shoulder and weighing 25–65 kilograms (55–143 pounds). It is stockily built, with large paws, strongly curved claws, small rounded ears and a short snout. The fur is generally jet-black, but can vary from grey to red. The sun bear gets its name from its characteristic orange to cream-colored chest patch. Its unique morphology - inward-turned front feet, flattened chest, powerful forelimbs with large claws - suggests adaptations for climbing. Sun bears stand on their hindfeet for a broader view of their surroundings or smell far-off objects; they try to intimidate their enemies by displaying the chest patch if threatened.

Video of bear at a Chinese zoo has people asking: Is that a bear or human in costume?  
Today Show - August 2, 2023

The intrigue began when footage of Angela, a Malayan sun bear, standing on her hind legs at Hangzhou Zoo in the eastern province of Zhejiang spread on Douyin, a TikTok-style social media site, last month.

Bear Symbolism


Hibernating Bear Symbolism


The Awakening Bear Symbolism



In shamanism bears are totem animals or power animals. This takes us to the very source of 'nature in motion' - the summer solstice - shaminism - the rhythm of drumming - sweat lodges and cleansing - as we meditate, initiate, and activate our DNA to uncover our lost wisdom and soul's purpose.

Messages the Bear Offers Us

Patience and Connection

Hibernating with our ideas or projects until a better time presents itself. Further, bear will speak to you about connecting to both earth-based energy and celestial (sun/moon) forces. Tapping into the bear will also allow you to tap into the wax, wane and flow of life.

Confidence and Authority

By its physical presence, the bear reminds us we can be larger than life if we raise ourselves up to our inherent status. Moreover, no one questions the bear. This kind of authoritative presence will be a lesson the bear can impart.

Nurturing and Protection

We intuit these attributes by the commitment bear mothers make to their offspring. Whether your offspring is in children or ideals, the bear will lend you the determination required for rearing up strong results.

Bears in Mythology and Legend

There is evidence of prehistoric bear worship. Anthropologists such as Joseph Campbell have regarded this as a common feature in most of the fishing and hunting-tribes. The prehistoric Finns, along with most Siberian peoples, considered the bear as the spirit of one's forefathers. This is why the bear (karhu) was a greatly respected animal, with several euphemistic names (such as otso, mesikämmen and kontio). The bear is the national animal of Finland.

This kind of attitude is reflected in the traditional Russian fairy tale "Morozko", whose arrogant protagonist Ivan tries to kill a mother bear and her cubs - and is punished and humbled by having his own head turned magically into a bear's head and being subsequently shunned by human society.

"The Brown Bear of Norway" is a Scottish fairy tale telling the adventures of a girl who married a prince magically turned into a bear, and who managed to get him back into a human form by the force of her love and after many trials and difficulties. In the 1970s, this story was adapted into the East German fantasy film The Singing Ringing Tree and broadcast on British television.

Evidence of bear worship has been found in early Chinese and Ainu cultures, as well (see Iomante). Korean people in their mythology identify the bear as their ancestor and symbolic animal. According to the Korean legend, a god imposed a difficult test on a she-bear; when she passed it, the god turned her into a woman and married her.

Legends of saints taming bears are common in the Alpine zone. In the arms of the bishopric of Freising, the bear is the dangerous totem animal tamed by St. Corbinian and made to carry his civilised baggage over the mountains. A bear also features prominently in the legend of St. Romedius, who is also said to have tamed one of these animals and had the same bear carry him from his hermitage in the mountains to the city of Trento.

Similar stories are told of Saint Gall and Saint Columbanus.

This recurrent motif was used by the Church as a symbol of the victory of Christianity over paganism.[59] In the Norse settlements of northern England during the 10th century, a type of "hogback" grave cover of a long narrow block of stone, with a shaped apex like the roof beam of a long house, is carved with a muzzled, thus Christianised, bear clasping each gable end. Though the best collection of these is in the church at Brompton, North Yorkshire,[60] their distribution ranges across northern England and southern Scotland, with a scattered few in the north Midlands and single survivals in Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland; a late group is found in the Orkney Islands.

Bears are a popular feature of many children's stories, including Goldilocks and "The Story of the Three Bears", the Berenstain Bears, and Winnie the Pooh.

Bear Medicine

With Bear Medicine we find:

The Bear is the keeper of the dreamtime, and stores the teachings of dreams until the dreamer wakes up to them. Many tribes have called this space of inner-knowing the Dream Lodge, where the death of the illusion of physical reality overlays the expansiveness of eternity. It is in the Dream Lodge that our ancestors sit in Council and advise us regarding alternative pathways that lead to our goals.

If you like bears, you should maybe look into some books on interpreting dreams; especially if you're a heavy dreamer. If you need a lot of sleep, it may be Bear working. This female receptive energy, for centuries has allowed visionaries, mystics, and shamans to prophesy.

The strength of Bear medicine is the power of introspection. Bear is not one to make snap decisions, nor one to ramrod or force into any position. Bear takes in all available information, takes it into his quiet place, studies that information carefully, gives it careful thought for a while, and then reaches his own informed decisions based on the facts at hand. Bear is the one who says, "I have to think about this. I'll be in touch later." You can rely on opinions coming from a Bear person as being well thought out and thorough, and based on the facts given. To accomplish the goals and dreams that we carry, the art of introspection is necessary.

Bear is a fierce warrior, especially when protecting their young. They appear to be lumbering and slow, but can have lightning speed when threatened. They love fish when they can get it, but they also eat berries, honey, etc. Bear people like home and shelter, and like to be warm and cozy.

With Bear Medicine, the power of knowing has invited you to enter the silence and become acquainted with the Dream Lodge, so that your goals may become concrete realities. This is the strength of Bear.

White Bear Medicine Woman

There is a Pawnee legend about White Bear Medicine Woman. She was born with the spirit of a bear, after her father killed a bear while she was in her mother's womb. She is the origin of the Bear Medicine Ceremony invoking healing powers by actions of a bear based on her narrative myth.

White Bear Medicine Woman is connected to the wheel - circles.

As you sit there ... close your eyes. Take 2 slow deep breaths. Relax. If White Bear Medicine Woman is part if your journey - ask her to come to you with a message. Wait for her! Record what is shown and told. If you wish to do this with drumming music - please click the power animal link above.

Bear Clan Origin Myth

The Bear Clan is a large clan of the Lower or Earth Moiety, and in contemporary Wisconsin, it is now the largest clan. The Bear Clan had to be consulted on all matters pertaining to the earth (such as land transfers), just as the Waterspirit Clan was in charge of matters pertaining to water, and the Thunderbird Clan to matters aerial. Read More...

Bear Constellation - Ursa Major

Ursa Major (Latin: "Larger She-Bear"; also known as the Great Bear and Charles' Wai) is a constellation visible throughout the year in most of the northern hemisphere. It can be seen best in the month of April. It is dominated by the widely recognized asterism known as the 'Big Dipper', 'The Wagon' and 'The Plough', which is a useful pointer towards the north, and it has mythological significance in numerous world cultures.

Ursa Major is a constellation visible throughout the year in the northern hemisphere. Its name means Great Bear in Latin, and is associated with the legend of Callisto.

Big Dipper Stars in Summer Sky - June 10, 2005

Myth: Zeus fell in love with a mortal woman named Callisto, who was a far-traveler and a huntress. His wife Hera became jealous, and changed Callisto into a large bear. When Callisto failed to return after a long journey, her son Arcas set out to find her, and in a forest one day met a huge bear. To his horror, the bear started to run toward him. Not perceiving it was his mother, Arcas fitted an arrow to his bow and was about to slay the bear, when Zeus, to avert the impending tragedy, changed Arcas into a smaller bear. Zeus could not undo Hera's spell. Then Zeus grabbed both bears by the tails, swung them around (thus stretching their tails out), and hurled them into the sky where they would be safe and immortal. However, Hera had the last word, moving them to the portion of the sky that never sets, so that until the end of the world Callisto and Arcas must endure weariness without rest.

The seven brightest stars of Ursa Major form a famous asterism known in the United Kingdom as the Plough, and was formerly called by the old name Charles's Wain ("wain" meaning "wagon") as it still is in Scandinavia, Karlavagnen. This common Germanic name originally meant the men's wagon (churls' wagon) in contrast to the women's wagon (Ursa Minor). There is also a theory that it was named after Charlemagne. In North America it is commonly known as the Big Dipper, because the major stars can be seen to follow the rough outline of a large ladle, or dipper; this is recognized as a grouping of stars in many cultures throughout the eras. In Hindu astronomy, it is referred to as Sapta Rishi meaning "The Seven Sages". Read More ...

Bears Today

Due to environmental changes, bears, as well as other forest animals often find food scarce. Their food sources become displaced as housing expands. As a result, many bears wander into people's yards and homes. This is an increasing pattern - as reported by friends, clients, and the media. Learning how to cope with this situation is most important so as not to endanger local residents and their pets. Here in NY state, many friends have found hungry bears lurking on their property, rummaging through garbage.

Mother's Day May 10, 2015

I spent Mother's Day with my daughter Zsia and her family in New Jersey. Bear sightings in northern NJ are not uncommon though not where Zsia lives. On the way to our Mother's Day brunch the traffic slowed as a NJ state trooper stood beside a dead brown bear who must have been hit by a car on Route 287. As we slowly drove passed, one has to wonder what happens when animals in the wild have no food and get desperate.

Fat Bear Week - October 5-11, 2022

Voting for Fat Bear Week gives fans another long-awaited opportunity to root for their favorite tiny-floofs bears in this year's bracket of contestants.

'Tis the season to livestream fat bears feasting on salmon and vote for your favorites

Fat Bear Week: Race is on for Alaska's bulkiest grizzly

Prehistoric Bears