How Big is Ted?

ted_face-on.jpgTed may be the largest black bear that ever lived

In fall 2006, Ted weighed an estimated 950 to 1000 pounds.  That estimate is based on the following.    

  • In fall 2006, bear expert Jeff Traska saw Ted in Ted's lifelong Wisconsin home and estimated him at over 900 pounds.    
  • Ted then went into hibernation and lost weight over winter.  A 20% loss would be expected, which would be between 180 and 200 pounds.  When Ted arrived here at the North American Bear Center in late April 2007, he still had a huge belly.  The caretakers restricted his food intake and made him work harder for his food than he had ever worked before.  Over the summer, they watched Ted's belly shrink and watched him become lighter on his feet.  
  • On November 21, 2007, Ted was as lean as ever,  and he weighed 860.5.

One can only speculate what Ted weighed back in the fall of 2006 before his hibernation and diet.  The estimate of 950 to 1,000 pounds does not seem out of line.  If that is true, Gentle Ted may be the largest black bear that ever lived.   

The Heaviest Black Bear on Record

The heaviest wild black bear ever reported was killed a century ago in Arizona.  It weighed a disputed 902 pounds.   The heaviest black bear reliably weighed was an 880-pound 10-year-old male killed in Craven County, North Carolina, in November 1998.  A close second was an 876-pound 12-year-old male weighed right here in St Louis County, Minnesota, on September 5, 1994.  Also in the region, an 856.5-pound bear was killed by a car near Winnipeg, Canada, in 2001.  An 802-pound bear was killed in Wisconsin in 1885. 

Other captive bears may have exceeded these weights because of their constant food supply, but we have found no records confirming that.