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  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

A Wildlife Park in Arizona that is totally bearable

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Beneath towering ponderosa pines, the160-acre park, Bearizonia, rescues wild animals and invites the public to view them in their natural environments. Education and conservation are key messages that people bring away with them, as well as the enjoyment of seeing these gorgeous creatures up close.


Starting with a scenic three-mile drive through I could observe North American animals such as black bears, bison, wolves, burros, bighorn sheep, deer and goats in their natural habitats, all from the safety of my vehicle. After this, I visited the 20-acre walk-through section of the park where I enjoyed seeing badgers, beavers, bobcats, grizzly bears, elk and foxes, as well as other smaller animals.


As I drove through the park, I kept to the speed of vehicles in front of me. At some of the animal sites, I wanted to spend longer observing them at their leisure and play. Fortunately, you can drive through as many times as you want, without paying a re-entry fee.


(Please excuse the fuzziness of some of the pictures below. They are taken from my car as I drove through, and most of the exhibits require you to keep your windows wound all the way up. At all times during the drive through, visitors must keep inside their cars.)


Cous Deer in the Wildlife park

All the Cous deer in Bearizonia come from Arizona and are found throughout the United States. They are herbivores and live for between nine to eleven years.

a cous dear sits on the ground amongst towering ponderosa pine trees. the winter snow covers half the ground behind this large antlered deer

American Burro

The American Burro is found in North American Deserts. When travelling through Arizona you often find them in the wild. The tourist town of Oatman Arizona is famous for their street wandering burros. Living between 25-30 years, these animals are also herbivores. In bygone mining days, they were used to carry heavy burdens.

an American burrow eats its food off the forest floor. surrounded by tall ponderosa pines, its light brown fur covers its whole body.

Alsakan Tundra Wolves

Watching the tundra wolves at play was entertaining. They chased each other in circles, playfully nipping at tails. It was like watching children enjoying themselves. These carnivores usually live along the coast of Northern Alaska. While they live for six to eight years in the wild, they have been known to live up to seventeen years in captivity.

four alaskan wolves frolick and cavort in play beneath the towering ponderosa pines. the ground is covered in rocks and winter snow. the animals spin and play like children. it is a true delight to watch

Junior Black Bears

Found throughout most of North America, these omnivore bears live for up to twenty years. They often lose their fear of humans and raid trash cans, pet food and bird feeders. People also often feed them, but these are wild creatures and should be respected for that, not treated as pets. Often, they are caught and euthanized. We are lucky to have the opportunity to see them at the park.

the junior black bears look like large rocks as they rest on the snow and rock covered ground. one lighter coloured bear is walking towards the road. ponderosa pines shade the bears as they rest

Bighorn Sheep

The magnificent antlers on these sheep give the animal its name. A herbivore, they live for ten years in the wild, and up to twenty in captivity. They are usually found in Southern Canada, the Rocky Mountains, the desert and parts of Texas. They can weigh as much as 300 pounds and are the largest sheep in North America. Is that a smile on his face as he poses for my camera?

the bighorn sheep with magnificently large antlers stands in the road, a snow covered rock behind him. He bares his teeth in a grimace, that could be a smile for the camera, as he seems to be posing for it. the ground behind him is covered in winter snow beneath the tall ponderosa pines

Signs

Before entering the different enclosures, signs announce the animals you are about to view. Warnings are there to be adhered to, not as a suggestion!

the warning sign before you enter the big bear area says - move along if bears approach. windows up. stay in vehicle

Adult Black Bear

This omnivore was being fed as I drove through. The keepers place the food near the road, which is ideal, as it brings the animals close enough for visitors to see. They live for around twenty years. Again, I am glad to have the opportunity to see them up close, while in the safety of my car. At up to 2m (6ft) tall and as much as 400kg (902lb), the windows of my vehicle were definitely closed tight.

a large black grizzly bear slowly walks towards its food, walking among the ponderosa pines. its shiny black coat of fur is only touched by a small band of light brown around his nose

Walk through

After the drive through, I visited the 20-acre walk-through section of the park where I enjoyed seeing badgers, beavers, bobcats, grizzly bears, elk and foxes, as well as other smaller animals.


Three rescued grizzly bear cubs have called the park their home since 2020. They were feeling sleepy when I visited, so it was an advantage that glass paneling allows people to still see them, even when they are resting. Their habitat has been specifically designed just for them, at a cost of more than one million dollars. Moats, rock ridges and railings are all good vantage points to view the grizzlys when they are out and about. The bears play in a nearly 40,000-foot exhibit complete with two waterfalls and underwater play areas. They have the adorable names of Sky, Crockett and Hanna.

three sleeping black grizzly bear cubs lie in a bed of straw in their cave

Canyon Lands restaurant has sculptured canyons, life sized eagles and a black jaguar. The canyon walls were constructed with a steel and sheet metal framing. This was covered in foam, plaster and concrete to create this realistic canyon.

life sized sculptures of  native americans stand on a ledge in the canyon restaurant at bearizonia. the man holds a bow and arrow, looking over the land for his prey. the wife in traditional dress points to something in the distance with her two small children next to her. the walls are carved to look like a home set into the canyon walls

Pay attention to all the small details when visiting. The canyon feeling is enhanced with glimpses of a painted sky when you look upwards. It enhances the realistic vibe.

the inside of the canyon restaurant at bearizona looks like a real canyon with rock type walls and an opening above looking out onto a painted sky. diners can sit at two levels overlooking life sized sculptures of birds, jaguars and other animals

Josh, Jesse and Jonathan LaBenne (the Bear Man) carved the mama grizzly bear into the support pole. Her little cubs look down from their perches above. Jonathan designed the Canyon Lands restaurant as well as several art pieces around the park.

the LaBenne family have sculptured a grizzly bear sitting down and visitors can take a selfie while sitting on his knee. two grizzly bear cubs climb the trunk above their mumma

Another sculpture by the LaBenne family is "Inspiration Gone Wild" next to the otter enclosure, just outside the gift shop. The giant grizzly bear is at the base of a real tree. Three grizzly bear cubs are climbing the tree and being met by otters. The cubs are so cute. This is such a popular spot in the park for people to take selfies that there was quite a lineup of humans waiting their turn. You cannot see the top in the picture below, but a bald eagle sits at the top of the tree.

the author Helen standing in front of a statue by the LaBenne family of a life sized grizzly bear. The live tree has 3 grizzly cub sculptures climbing the trunk and meeting with an otter. winter snow sits on the ground, and a tall pine tree with green leaves stands tall nearby

At different spontaneous times of the day there are various animal encounters throughout the park. I was fortunate to time it just right to see the vultures flying from one keeper to another. The keepers also gave a talk about the animal, short and informative. I really enjoy being educated while having fun at the wildlife park.

a keeper dressed in protective clothing with a specially protective glove has a vulture on her hands. she flies the bird from herself across a stretch of grass to another keeper

1500 E. Route 66

Williams, AZ 86046


Happy Travels!


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1 Comment


kenneth.driskel
Feb 16, 2023

Looks very interesting , lots to see .

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