Bears are the most intelligent native nonhuman animals in North America, and many modern bear biologists credit them with intelligence that is the equivalent of the great apes or of a three-year-old human. Black bears in particular can count as well as primates.[1]

Bears have been shown to have excellent long-term memory, navigation skills superior to humans, the ability to use tools and perform complex tasks, and the capacity for subjective emotion including grief. They are also cunning in terms of their ability to locate food and evade predators including humans.

As highly evolved social animals, they have well-structured relationships with each other in the wild, even sharing resources. The polar bear, for example, never loses track of other members of its community.[2] Cubs spend several years with their mother learning survival skills, including the location of various food sources. Despite the importance of community to their well-being, humans isolate bears from their family units, cage them, and force them to perform for entertainment purposes.

[1] C. Dell’Amore, “Black Bears Can ‘Count’ as Well as Primates,” National Geographic Daily News (29 August 2012).

[2]Artic Bears: Bear Intelligence,” Nature (10 June 2008).