North American Bear Center
Building on the success of the International Wolf Center, the North American Bear Center (1926 Hwy. 169, 218/365-7879, www.bear.org, 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily summer, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Fri.–Sat. rest of year, $8.50 adults) opened in 2007. The large indoor display hammers hard on the idea that bears have been unfairly demonized in folklore, and the media and reports of their danger to humans have been exaggerated.
Other exhibits include a children’s play area and a movie about the work of local bear researchers.
From a raised observation deck, visitors can watch the three captive bears Honey (a female born in 1996), Ted (a male born in 1997), and Lucky (a male born in 2007) play. Only about half of their two-acre enclosure is visible from the deck, so they do have a chance to step out of the limelight when they feel like it.
The center hosts free educational programs on everything from bear language to the ecology of the area. Photographers can pay an additional $25 to (safely) get up close and personal with the bears.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition