Yellowstone Bear World

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Yellowstone Bear World
Yellowstone Bear World Entrance.jpg
Entrance to Yellowstone Bear World
Date opened1998
LocationRexburg, Idaho, U.S.A.
Coordinates43°44′19.67″N 111°51′57.14″W / 43.7387972°N 111.8658722°W / 43.7387972; -111.8658722Coordinates: 43°44′19.67″N 111°51′57.14″W / 43.7387972°N 111.8658722°W / 43.7387972; -111.8658722
Land area125 acres (51 ha)
No. of animalsOver 40 Black Bears and 5 Grizzly Bears
No. of species8 Species of Wildlife: Grizzly Bear, American Black Bear, Mountain Goat, Rocky Mountain Elk, Bison, Moose, Mule Deer, and White-tail Deer[1]
Major exhibitsDrive-Thru, Bottle Feeding Bear Cubs, Wildlife Excursion, Three Bears Gift Shop, Amusement Rides, and Petting Zoo[2]
An American Black Bear in Yellowstone Bear World, 2017

Yellowstone Bear World is a privately owned drive-thru wildlife park.[3][4][5][6][7][8] It is located in Rexburg, Idaho, near Yellowstone National Park.[9] It was established in 1998.[5]

The park holds over 8 species of wildlife indigenous to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Other attractions in the park include a small amusement park and a petting zoo. Yellowstone Bear World is the only wildlife park in the United States where guests can bottle feed bear cubs.


Construction Delays[edit]

During construction of the park, developer Mike Ferguson halted excavations after the Army Corps of Engineers told him they wanted him to stop due to controversy and the lack of a required permit for building in the Snake River wetland. Work was halted in late April-early May 1998, but by that point most of the work for the park was already completed. According to the terms of the Clean Water Act, developers are required to show that they will do no or little damage to wetlands before work is begun. There is no evidence that Ferguson knew that he needed such permits in advance of beginning development.[10]

On May 28, 1998, Madison County Commissioners voted to grant Mike Ferguson a permit to allow construction on the wetlands where the park was to be located. The vote was unanimous after local residents showed strong support for the project. This was the last step the park needed from county government officials for construction to be completed.[11]

On June 12, 1998, the first of Bear World's bears arrived, two days after Ferguson reached an agreement with Idaho wildlife officials who gave him permission to bring in the bears on a temporary basis. This move allowed Ferguson an opening to temporarily avoid a ban on the commercial importation of black bears.[12]

Direct Highway Access Closure[edit]

In 2016, the Idaho Department of Transportation started construction on the Thornton Interchange on Highway 20. When the interchange was completed in early 2017, it closed off the direct access to Yellowstone Bear World from Highway 20. Now visitors must follow signs, taking a less convenient route though backroads. According to Courtney Ferguson (general manager of Bear World) the closure of the direct highway access resulted in a 10% drop in business.[13]

A frontage road was later constructed to the west of Highway 20 to reinstate direct access. The road opened on May 30, 2019.[14]



Yellowstone Bear World is the only drive-through wildlife reserve in the Greater Yellowstone area. The major cause of attraction of the park is the opportunity for visitors to see grizzly bears, black bears, and other wildlife indigenous to North America in their native habitat and from the safety and comfort of their cars.[15]

Bottle feeding a bear cub in Yellowstone Bear World 2003.

Bottle Feeding Bear Cubs[edit]

Three times during each day the park offers children and adults the chance to bottle feed bear cubs and pet them. The feeding experience is part of a complete 'behind the scenes' visit with a professional animal keeper.[16]

Wildlife Excursion[edit]

The Wildlife Excursion is an attraction that is in addition to the admissions. An animal keeper takes adults and children on a large truck to feed and explain interesting facts about Rocky Mountain Elk, American Bison, Black Bears, and Grizzly Bears. Many guests choose this attraction to get photos of wildlife. It is the only way a guest can feed the adult bears at Yellowstone Bear World.[17]

Petting Zoo[edit]

Visitors are encouraged to leave their cars and visit the petting zoo which consists of over one acre containing free-roaming farm animals and birds. There are also deer fawn or elk calf feedings at times.[18]

Amusement Rides at Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho 2018

Amusement Rides[edit]

Yellowstone Bear World also has a small amusement park. The rides are designed for children ages three and up, but can be enjoyed by adults as well. Like the petting zoo, the rides are included with admission. Children under 36” must be accompanied by an adult.[19]

List of Amusement Rides:

  • Bair Affair
  • Baja Buggy
  • Circus Train
  • Huckleberry Bounce
  • Log Roller Coaster

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wildlife of Yellowstone Bear World". Yellowstone Bear World. September 15, 2010. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  2. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World Experiences". Yellowstone Bear World. March 16, 2011. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  3. ^ Associated Press (May 5, 1998). "Evcavation of protected wetlands stopped at proposed Yellowstone Bear World park". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  4. ^ Cornwall, Warren (May 28, 1998). "Madison County, Idaho, Approves Wildlife Park Permit". Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News via HighBeam Research. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved May 21, 2012.(subscription required)
  5. ^ a b Associated Press (June 12, 1998). "Bear World gets some bears". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Olsen, Ken (August 2, 1998). "BEAR WORLD CAPTURES TOURISTS LIVE-ANIMAL AMUSEMENT PARK SPRINGS FROM LOOPHOLE IN STATE LAW". The Spokesman-Review via HighBeam Research. McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved May 21, 2012.(subscription required)
  7. ^ Associated Press (May 22, 1999). "Bear World employee suffers bite from bear". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  8. ^ "Bear World boosts county's economy". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Rexburg, Idaho. October 11, 1999. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  9. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World". Retrieved May 21, 2012.
  10. ^ "Excavation of Protected Wetlands Stopped at Proposed Yellowstone Bear World Park". Moscow Pullman Daily News. May 5, 1998. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  11. ^ Cornwall, Ridder (May 28, 1998). "Madison County, Idaho, Approves Wildlife Park Permit". HighBeam Research. Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. Archived from the original on August 31, 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Bear World Gets Some Bears". Google News. The Spokane Review. June 12, 1998. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  13. ^ Davis, Taja (June 27, 2017). "Business down '10 percent' at Bear World since direct road access closed". Local News 8. KIFI/KIDK. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  14. ^ Colina, Jilliana (May 31, 2019). "Bear World Road now open". Local News 8. KIFI/KIDK. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  15. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World". Yellowstone National Park. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World". Idaho Adventures in Living. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World Wildlife Excursion". Yellowstone Bear World. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  18. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World". National Park Central Reservations. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Yellowstone Bear World Amusement Rides". Yellowstone Bear World. Retrieved 18 October 2018.

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