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Are Bears Friendly? (Can You Befriend a Bear?)

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Bears are not friendly. They are wild animals that usually keep to themselves, except for a mother and her cubs. Humans can’t befriend bears because they are unnerved by human presence and tend to keep their distance from people.

Many people are often curious as to whether you can keep wild animals as pets. The truth is, wild animals are wild for a reason.

Where domesticated animals have gotten used to being around humans, wild animals have an innate fear of people.

In this article, we’ll talk about whether you can befriend a bear or not if there are any friendly bears, and how a bear may be tamed.

Can Humans Befriend a Bear?

No, humans can’t befriend a bear. Bears are wild animals, and will always be considered to be so. 

Bears aren’t social, but solitary animals that are more than capable of taking care of themselves, with the exception of mothers and cubs. 

They keep their distance from humans, as well as other predators, most of the time. Hence, it goes against their nature to befriend someone.

While they may be curious enough to investigate a human who’s in their territory, that doesn’t mean they’re friendly or can be befriended by humans. Bears are wild animals first and foremost.

brown bear and cubs

What Bears Are Friendly?

No bears are outright friendly, but some are less aggressive than others. Black bears are typically the least aggressive, while grizzlies are more likely to attack if they feel threatened.

Bears are wild animals and should not be approached. While they can be trained, they can never be tamed. They can be dangerous, especially if you encounter a mother bear with her cubs. 

Some bears are however less aggressive than others, and more curious. Hence, a bear may approach you, or your group, if you have something they want (food).

It’s important to remember that bears are unpredictable and can change their behavior depending on their surroundings and what they’re searching for.

Black bears are generally less aggressive. This may be because they’re smaller in size. Grizzly bears, on the other hand, are much more aggressive.

Are Black Bears Friendly?

Black bears are the most common type of bear in North America[1]. They are also the least aggressive, typically fleeing from humans when they encounter them. This does not mean they’re friendly.

Black bears are curious animals and will often approach people or cars if they are food-provoked, but they are not known to attack people unprovoked.

black bear walking on the road

Are Grizzly Bears Friendly?

Grizzly bears, or brown bears, are the largest and most aggressive of all bear species[2]. They are not considered friendly, as they are known to attack humans who come too close. 

In general, grizzlies will avoid people if possible, but there have been cases of grizzlies becoming habituated to humans and seeking out human interaction. These interactions usually result in injuries or death for the bear. 

So while it is technically possible to get close to a grizzly bear, it’s definitely not recommended.

bear

Are Polar Bears Friendly?

Polar bears are not friendly. They are wild and solitary animals who, with the exception of mothers and their cubs, live alone. 

Though polar bears are not outright hostile to humans (they very rarely attack people), they tend to avoid them as much as possible.

While most bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and plants, polar bears are almost exclusively meat-eaters. Hence, it’s not recommended to get too close to a polar bear, especially if they’re hungry.

angry polar bear

Are Panda Bears Friendly?

The panda bear is a species of bear native to China. They are known for their black and white fur and are one of the most popular animals in the world. 

While panda bears are cuddly, gentle creatures, they’re not friendly animals. They are, as all other bears, built to be aggressive and dangerous. 

There are reports of attacks on individuals by panda bears. In these incidents, the panda most likely felt threatened. Despite their aggressive nature, panda bears are popular animals and are the main attraction at many zoos.

panda bear eating bamboo

Are Bears Friendly With Each Other?

No, bears don’t befriend each other. As stated, they’re solitary animals. They may tolerate each other, but no more than that.

Bears are not social animals[3]. They do not live in groups, and the only hierarchy seen in bears is between a mother and her offspring. 

Mothers with cubs are slightly more tolerant to other adult female bears than they are to males, but even these relationships are tenuous at best. 

Bears see each other as competitors. They all scavenge and forage for the same food resources, which can be scarce throughout the year. While bears typically don’t fight each other, they may do so.

Bears are not known to be aggressive towards one another outside of the mating season, but that doesn’t mean they can’t, or won’t, become hostile if provoked.

Can Bears Be Tamed?

No, bears can’t be tamed. While they can be somewhat trained, it’s not to the degree of a dog. 

Most people are probably familiar with circus bears. These bears are trained to perform for the entertainment of humans. But don’t be fooled. While they may be trained, they’re not tamed.

Bears can’t be tamed, as dogs have been. Dogs are bred to be obedient and tame, while bears aren’t. They’re wild animals that live alone and are very territorial.

Even when a bear has been trained, it is considered wild. While their behavior can change through training, they’re still wild in their genes.

Bears are generally shy around humans and prefer to keep their distance. However, there are cases of bears becoming habituated to humans, either through intentional feeding or being left alone in an area where they come into contact with people often. 

These bears can become dangerous, as they learn to associate people with food and may resort to attacking humans if they don’t get what they want.

Can Bears Be Domesticated?

No, bears can’t be domesticated. They’re solitary, wild animals by nature. 

Bears are not domesticated animals and cannot be tamed. While the thought of a pet bear may intrigue some people, it’s not recommended to try.

These large mammals will always be considered wild. Domestication is a process where animals are bred to live among humans.

Domestication is defined as:

“The process of taming an animal and keeping it as a pet or on a farm.”

As bears can’t be tamed, they can’t be domesticated. 

They would also make for bad pets for several reasons:

  • They’re dangerous
  • They eat a lot
  • They need space to roam
  • They’re solitary by nature

Domestication would go against all natural instincts of a bear, resulting in stress and depression, which could cause it to turn to aggressive behavior.

Related: Can bears be domesticated?

Lone Bear

Can Bears Imprint on Humans?

Yes, bears can imprint on humans. When this happens, a bear may see the human as family, which can somewhat result in a bond between the two.

Bear cubs imprint on their mother. Birds and mammals are born with a natural instinct to imprint on their caretaker. In other words, they form a bond with this person or being, and imitate their behavior.[4]

Bears can imprint on humans if they have positive experiences with them during their formative years. If a bear cub has negative experiences with humans, they are less likely to imprint on them.

If a bear imprints on a human, it will typically follow them around, seeing them as their mother.

Imprinting may be the exception to the rule when it comes to befriending a bear. However, it’s still dangerous, as the bear will still be genetically considered wild.

Related: Do bears eat humans?

Are Bears Dangerous?

Bears are typically not dangerous, as they tend to keep their distance from humans. However, they’re very strong, large, and powerful, and definitely have the capabilities to be dangerous.

While all bear species are different, most are not naturally aggressive towards people. They will react to defend themselves if they feel threatened or provoked. 

Most bear attacks are a result of the bear reacting defensively rather than being malicious or territorial towards people.

Conclusion

Bears are not friendly animals and should be avoided whenever possible. They’re wild, solitary animals, and keep their distance from people. While there are some bears who may be more curious than others, they’re not friendly. 

Bears can become aggressive if they feel threatened, so it is important to know how to behave around them and what precautions to take. 

While some people try to train bears, they can’t be tamed. Domestication is simply not natural to bears.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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