American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Appearance & Size: Typically black in color, but colors can range from brown, cinnamon, blue/grey, and even white. Males typically weigh 120-600lbs and females 90-300lbs
Diet: Bears are omnivorous, meaning they consume both plant and animals matter. Only about 5% of a bears’ diet is made up of meat and most of that is scavenged and not hunted.
Habitat & Range: North America (Canada, United States, northern Mexico) Black bears are typically found in forest but can be found in mountains and swamps.
- DJ was found in the wild and taken in by Ellijay Wildlife Sanctuary in 2003. He arrived at the zoo in September 2006.
- Athena and Yonah were found in the wild in 2010, when they were approximately 2 months old and hand reared by Bear Hollow staff. (Supposedly their mother was killed by a poacher and the Game Warden came upon the poacher when he was trying to take the cubs.) Both sisters are about the same size. Athena has a white patch on her chest.
North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis)
Appearance & Size: They have long, streamlined bodies, thick tapered tails, short legs, wide, rounded heads, small ears, and nostrils that can be closed underwater. The fur is dense and soft, effectively insulating these animals in water.
Diet: Mostly fish, as well as amphibians and crustaceans. Small mammals, mollusks, reptiles, birds, and fruits are consumed opportunistically.
Habitat & Range: United States and Canada, in a diversity of aquatic habitats. They are semi-aquatic.
Otters are known as playful animals, exhibiting behaviors such as mud/snow sliding burrowing, and water play, and can live alone or in family groups. They are excellent swimmers and divers, able to stay underwater for up to 8 minutes. Otters have a low tolerance for polluted water, river otters are considered to be a good indicator, or keystone, species of the quality of aquatic habitats.
- Otterbee arrived in 2015 from a wildlife rehabilitation facility in Florida after being orphaned in the wild. He was released and returned to the release site, and is deemed non-releasable due to habituation to humans.
- Bobbles arrived in 2020 from the Alaska Zoo after being found alone on a bluff 75’ straight up from the water. He is believed to have been picked up by a predator and dropped. Bobbles showed some neurological deficits during rehab and deemed non-releasable.
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Appearance & Size: Males possess antlers which are shed from January to March and grow out again in April or May, losing their velvet in August or September.
Diet: Herbivores; In eastern forests, buds and twigs of maple, sassafras, poplar, aspen and birch (to name a few) are consumed, as well as many shrubs.
Habitat & Range: Most of southern Canada and the entire mainland United States except a few states in the west. They are able to survive in a variety of terrestrial habitats, farmlands, brushy areas, and deserts. Ideal whitetail deer habitat would contain dense thickets in which to hide and move about and edges which provide food.
White-tailed females are very protective of their babies. When looking for food, females leave their offspring in a hiding place for about four hours at a time. While waiting for their mother to return, fawns lay flat on the ground with their necks outstretched, well camouflaged against the forest floor. Fawns begin to follow their mother on her foraging trips once they are about 4 weeks old. White-tailed deer fawns nurse for 8 to 10 weeks before they are weaned. Young males leave their mother after one year but young females often stay with their mother for two years. If you see a fawn, leave it alone. Whitetail deer are the most nervous and shy of our deer. They wave their tails characteristically from side to side when they are startled and fleeing. They are extremely agile and may bound at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour through tangled terrain in a forest.
- Rocky was brought to the Zoo from the Department of Natural Resources, after also being kept as a pet. He arrived in June 2013. Antlers or Horns? Those look funny! He was mistakenly neutered causing his antlers to grow abnormally. Bear Hollow Zoo and the UGA Veterinary teaching hospital worked together to give Rocky a testosterone implant to aid in the natural cycle of antler growth and shedding. Don’t worry! This does not bother Rocky at all!
- Rose was orphaned as a very young fawn in the spring of 2015.
Fun Fact: White-tailed deer played an integral role in the history of Bear Hollow Zoo. At one time, this site was used to raise white-tail deer to be released in the area, as they were actually in danger of being wiped out from the State of Georgia. During this endeavor, the University of Georgia developed the first dart gun, which is now used throughout the world as often the safest means of tranquilizing wild animals.