Credit: J.N.Thurgood

Want to See a Bear?

In the town of West Yellowstone, just outside of Yellowstone National Park there is a zoo of bears and wolves.  The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center is the name of this zoo.  I have been to Yellowstone at least five times and almost every time I go I visit the Discovery Center.  It is a fun place to learn and see several of these wild animals.  Unlike a normal zoo it is a more focused exhibition of those specific animals.  I find that it allows for better viewing of the bears and wolves.  You can see them closely and in habitats that don't drain their energy.  The center is a great place to take any friends and family of all ages.  Here are a few of the attractions and things to do at the Discovery Center.

Main Attractions

As the name of the zoo implies the main attraction are the grizzlies and the gray wolf.  The center does a great job at letting people see a lot of bears and wolves at a close distance and with a variety of landscape.  The workers work hard at ensuring that the visitors get a good look at these wild animals.  They do this by posting the feeding times so that visitors can plan for the best time to show up and see them.  Feeding time not only provides great views of the grizzlies and wolves but also lets you see how they interact in nature.  The workers bury and hide the food all over the animals habitat and let the animals do what they naturally do to search and get that food.  Obviously, it is not the same as if they were free and in the wild but the feeding process still gives them a chance to use their cunning, instincts, and muscles.  The bears get a special project when feeding.  Trash can companies send their bear proof cans to the Discovery Center for testing to see if the cans will hold up under a bears strength.  I watched a bear tear open one can through sheer force.  That company will have to go back to the drawing board.

bearCredit: J.N.Thurgood

Another great thing about the bears and wolves here is that they are not just stolen from the wild to fill some bodies pockets with money.  Each animal is determined by wildlife biologists as unfit to survive in the wild due to interactions with man.  These bears in wolves are sometimes trapped in dumpsters, injured, pulled out of the wild while young or some other experience that make their survival in the wild difficult.  Some animals become reliant on human trash and waste and can no longer effectively hunt.  When bears and wolves like these are found this place gives them a hme that helps them live full lives.

Other Things to Do

There is still more to see and do at the discovery center.  Inside the zoo entrance there is a small museum that gives a great education on different types of bears and wolves and their habitats.  There is a small playground for children that includes a teepee and a trash can area where you can see what grizzlies can do to your trash can.  The damage to the cans is impressive. Recently, they added a couple of new attractions.  They have begun a bird-cage where a few bald eagles live.  There is a small trail that takes you through an exhibit of common Yellowstone activities.  It is an area that shows what attracts bears to human things and how a visitor of Yellowstone can better protect yourself and your belongings.  The trail has a small garden, trash cans, a cabin with bird feeders, picnic tables with fake food, and more outdoor type places where bears may be enticed by human goods. Finally, there is a gift shop with any  bear or wolf trinket you could want.  There is good food nearby and many other shops in-town and of course just around the corner Yellowstone National Park.

bear 2Credit: J.N. Thurgood


Visiting Yellowstone

When you visit Yellow Stone National Park make sure you stop here and check out these magnificent creatures.  Seeing a bear or wolf in the wild would be awesome but you may put yourself at risk trying to do so.  Instead, go to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery center where you can safely watch these beautiful animals up close.  You will also learn a lot about how they live and survive.  It is a fun time and a good education.