Bear Affair


(Learn the do’s and don’ts of keeping bears away from your campsite)

Media Opportunity:
Monday, July 4, 2011
10 a.m.
Demonstration with Black Bears
Please arrive by 9:45 a.m. – meet Tracy at Education Complex

(Pittsburgh) (July 2011)— What do you and a black bear have in common? You both really like camping! Before you head out into the wild, learn how to keep your campsite safe from bears! To demonstrate what can happen, we set up a campsite in the bear den to show you why bears love when you camp in their backyard!

Every summer, thousands of campers head to the woods to enjoy the great outdoors. Camping is a great experience and being prepared is even better.

“When people get ready for a camping trip, they make a long list of things to take with them, but they often forget the most important thing: common sense,” says Mo Brown, bear keeper at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. “We forget that we are visitors in the homes of black bears and that we need to remember that as we set up our campsites. Bears use their sense of smell to find food and to them, the faster the better. They don’t know that the food they find is in your campsite.”

Some tips for safe and fun camping:

  • Don’t leave food or garbage open around the campsite. Dispose of it in the large waste cans at the campsite or bring your own container with a sturdy lid.
  • Properly storing food means keeping all food and food-related items inside a closed, hard-sided vehicle or a bear-resistant container.
  • Camp in open areas away from thick brush, trails, streams.
  • Always sleep in a tent for safety.
  • Keep sleeping bags and tents free of food, food odors, and beverages.
  • Keep pets on a leash. Never leave pets unattended. Pets can threaten and harass wildlife and even lure bears to your campsite.

“It is really just a matter of being smart,” says Mr. Brown. “Campers and bears can share the woods.”

Bear attacks are rare in Western Pennsylvania and most of the bear sightings that have been occurring in local communities are because young bears are breaking away from their mothers and trying to discover their own territory. “The bears spotted are young bears and most are just looking for food ,” says Mr. Brown. “So the same rules apply to your home as they do in camping. Don’t leave food or trash out. Keep everything in a sturdy container.”

If you  encounter a bear, never approach it and don’t run away. Try to scare it away by making loud noises.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is open year round. For directions, hours, tickets and group sales information, call 412 665-3640. Visit the Zoo’s website at The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. For more information visit