Keep Cool and Bear It

The summer heat can be downright “unbearable” for us humans, so guests often wonder how the black bears handle hot days with their fur coats. While people wear coats to keep warm, animals have fur not only to stay warm, but to stay cool too!

Much like your dog at home, bears do not perspire. They pant to dissipate heat and, more importantly, they shed their thick and heavy winter undercoat to help them deal with the summer heat. The remaining hairs are lighter and longer, helping to insulate their bodies while keeping heat and direct sunlight from their skin. As they move, the longer, taller hairs float and sway allowing for cooler air to move along their body. In addition to their natural cooling methods, the bears at Maymont are fortunate enough to have their own swimming hole. This time of year, you likely will find them taking a dip and playing in the water during your visit.

– Joe Neel, Maymont Manager of Zoology