Mill Mountain Zoo Welcomes Its Highly Anticipated American Black Bear

On February 28, 2021, “Hyde” the black bear arrived at Mill Mountain Zoo and Wildlife Conservancy from her previous home at the Wright Park Zoo in Dodge City, Kansas. Hyde lived at the Wright Park Zoo from the age of 3 months old until her move to Roanoke.

After spending the required 30 days in quarantine per Mill Mountain Zoo’s policy and procedures, (see, you’re not alone) the Zoo is now excited to introduce Hyde to the region. Hyde is a ten-year old female black bear, weighing 350 pounds. She was born in captivity. Her arrival was not previously publicized to allow time for bonding with her keepers and to allow her to quietly adjust to her new surroundings.

The black bear enclosure is the first capital project undertaken by the Zoo in three decades. Its last major project was the enclosure built for “Ruby” the tiger.  Hyde’s enclosure was painstakingly designed and crafted to resemble the native wildlife habitat.

After Nina, the Zoo’s beloved cougar, passed away in September 2019, it was decided that her enclosure would be modified to accommodate the black bear. Native, fruiting plants like elderberry, and blueberry were planted so that the black bear can do some natural foraging while on exhibit. Some trees were left unprotected so that Hyde could climb or use them for scratching if she chooses.

Overall exhibit security was enhanced by installing devices that would prevent her from digging out of the enclosure, climbing the fence, and climbing certain trees. The viewing platform was expanded to improve the guest experience.  Information graphics have been created, with Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources, to ensure that the zoo encourages co-existence with these native beauties.

President of the Board of Directors, Niki Voudren, speaks to the Board’s gratitude to the staff and says “Mill Mountain Zoo is indebted to the generosity of dear friends and stakeholders for making this exhibit a reality.” Other key partners for construction and delivery of Hyde to the Zoo include R.L. Price Construction and the City of Roanoke.


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