10 facts about brown bears


We’ve just launched a new campaign to help rescue and protect brown bear cubs so they can be returned to the wild. Here’s 10 facts you need to know about these fascinating creatures and the threats they are facing.

  • There are an estimated 200,000 brown bears living in the wild, about 100,000 of which are found in Russia
  • Brown bears are found in northern Europe, Asia and North America. They live in habitats as diverse as Arctic shrubland, temperate forests, alpine meadows and coastal areas
  • Subspecies of brown bear include grizzly bears, also known as the North American brown bear
  • Brown bears are classified as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature 
  • Despite this, they face many threats in the wild, including logging and deforestation, conflict with humans, illegal hunting for bear trophies, and accidentally being caught up in the legal hunting of other wild animals
  • Brown bears don’t fully hibernate, but do go into a deep winter sleep for five to six months from October/November in a den, sometimes going for more than 100 days without eating. They can lose up to 40% of their body weight during this time
  • Tragically, if a bear feels it is in danger, s/he may leave their den and not return, even if there are young cubs in the den. At such a young age, bear cubs cannot survive on their own, so the only way to try and save them is through human intervention
  • Born Free supports the Orphan Bear Rescue Centre (OBRC) in Russia, which rescues, rehabilitates and prepares orphan brown bear cubs for release back to the wild when they are ready
  • OBRC’s work involves bottle-feeding, weaning, veterinary care and encouraging the  bear cubs to learn the skills they need to survive in the wild, such as foraging
  • To date, OBRC has returned more than 250 brown bear cubs to the wild. It cared for 18 bears in 2020.

Over the next two months, our new campaign Raising Cubs will examine all these facts in further detail. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, or keep an eye on our website for updates.