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Are There Bears in Australia & Which Ones?

There are no bears in Australia. There never were, and there never will be, at least not in the wild. There are some individuals in zoos, but that’s it. Bears are simply not native to Australia.

There has been a lot of speculation about bears living in Australia. 

Some people say that they’ve seen bears in the wild, while others claim that they’ve never seen one. 

So, are there bears in Australia? 

That’s what we’ll discuss in this article, as well as answer questions such as if there have ever been bears in Australia, and whether bears can even live in Australia.

Are There Bears in Australia?

Bears do not live in the wild in Australia, though they can be seen in zoos. Hence, there are bears in Australia, but only in captivity. There have never been any wild bears in Australia.

The Australian wildlife is very diverse. There is a wide range of wild animals, from kangaroos to dangerous snakes.

However, there are no wild bears. While they can be found in zoos, brought there from other countries, they aren’t native to the Australian wildlife.

There are a few reasons why bears do not live in the wild in Australia. 

  • The first reason is that it is too hot for them there. The climate is too warm and dry for bears to live comfortably. 
  • Another reason is that there are no forests or mountains in Australia where bears could live. Bears like to live in forests and mountains where they can find food and shelter.
  • Third, bears didn’t evolve to live in Australia. They are native to North America.

Are There Bears in Australian Zoos?

Yes, there are bears in Australian Zoos. They are not native to Australia, however. 

Australia is home to a lot of animals, but bears aren’t one of them. The bears in Australian zoos have simply been brought over from other countries, such as the US and China.

Bear at the zoo

Have There Ever Been Bears in Australia?

No, Australia has never had native bears. Bears originate from North America and migrated to other continents from there. The bears native to Australia are dingoes and koalas which are not bears.

The only bears in Australia have been brought by humans, as pets or zoo animals. In the wild, they wouldn’t be able to survive due to lack of food, colder climate, and predators that would eat them. Koalas might look similar but they are marsupials with a pouch where their babies grow up before coming out into the world while bears give birth within the womb-like other mammals do.

Related: Are There Bears in England?

What Bears Live in Australia?

While no bears live in the wild in Australia, Koalas do. They’re often referred to as Koala bears, though they aren’t bears. They’re simply called that because they look like small bears.

Koalas can be found in southeastern and eastern Australia. They’re a national symbol of Australia’s wildlife.[1]

Many people refer to them as “Koala bears”, and hence a misconception has risen. Even though they’re called bears, they aren’t bears. They’re marsupials.

There are no other “bears” in Australia.

SpeciesPresence in Australia
Polar bearIn zoos
Grizzly bearNot in Australia
Sun bearsIn zoos
Panda bearsIn zoos

Are There Polar Bears in Australia?

While no wild Polar bears live in Australia, partly due to the warm climate, the popular theme park Sea World has polar bears in arctic enclosures. 

Polar bears live in cold climates. Hence, Australia is not fit for them. They’re kept by the theme park known as Sea World.

The bears are kept in special arctic enclosures to emulate the bears’ natural habitat. They feature areas such as ice caves and snow-covered rocks, as well as a pool of water with freezing temperatures in which the bears can swim.

Polar bears are a popular Sea World feature. The park’s first polar bear exhibit opened in 2001. Since then more polar bears were added to the attraction.[2]

Polar Bear at the zoo

Are There Grizzly Bears in Australia?

Grizzly bears have never lived in Australia, and they can’t be found in zoos either. This is because bears, although they are interesting animals, are not native to Australia.

In fact, the only bears that can be found in Australia are Koala bears, but they aren’t bears.

Despite this lack of grizzlies, some people might still be curious as to whether or not these animals could survive if they were introduced to the Australian environment. 

The answer to this question is that it’s impossible to say for sure, though most experts agree, that they would have a difficult time fitting in.

Australia has a wide variety of climates, ranging from tropical rainforests to deserts. A grizzly bear would have a difficult time surviving in any of these environments since they require cooler temperatures and plenty of food sources.

Are There Sun Bears in Australia?

There are no native sun bears in Australia, but many Australian zoos keep sun bears.

The sun bears are native to Southeast Asia, where they can be found in the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia. They spend most of their time in trees, eating fruit and insects. 

These bears are very small with short hair that resembles a lion’s mane around their face giving them an appearance similar to that of lions or tigers rather than bears.

sun bear sitting

Are There Panda Bears in Australia?

There are panda bears in Australian zoos, which they’ve loaned from China. Giant pandas can only be found in the wild in the Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces, hence Australia had to import them.

Why Are There No Bears in Australia

There are no bears in Australia because they couldn’t migrate there. Australia separated from the other continents early on – before bears were around. Hence, the wildlife in Australia evolved separately from all other animals in the world.

Bears first appeared about 30 million years ago[3]. While native to North America, they migrated across the world, and can now be found in Europe and Asia as well.

There were bears in Africa as well, but they’re not extinct. These were called Atlas bears.

Related: Are There Bears in Africa?

As Australia was already separated from the other continents, when bears first emerged, bears couldn’t go there. Hence, they never had the chance to settle and adapt there.

This is also the reason why the wildlife in Australia is so different from America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

While some marsupial creatures look like small versions of a bear, such as koalas or wombats, these creatures do not share any common ancestry with true bears.

Koala Bear at the Zoo

Can Bears Live in Australia?

Australia is made up of a harsh climate, one that bears would most likely have a tough time living in. Native animals have adapted to these conditions, but bears have not.

There are bears in Australia, but they’re not native. Bears were brought to Australia as part of a circus act or for zoos. There have never been any wild bears in Australia.

If bears were to be introduced to Australia, they would most likely die. They aren’t used to the harsh conditions, the heat, the food sources, or the terrain. 

Hence, they’d be at a severe disadvantage compared to native animals.


There are no native bears in Australia, but there are some species kept in zoos and theme parks, including polar bears, sun bears, and giant panda bears.

While it is possible that bears could survive in Australian ecosystems, they would likely struggle due to the lack of food sources and extreme weather conditions.

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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