Dancing Bearfoot (Tennessee)

Initiative: Helping orphaned and injured black bears survive and to be returned to their natural wild habitat

Business: Dancing Bearfoot is a luxury level log cabin located near the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

Nothing is more exciting than catching a glimpse of a magnificent black bear while visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Every year injured, or orphaned black bear cubs are brought to Appalachian Bear Rescue not only from the Smokies Mountains National Park are but also from surrounding states. These bears are provided the necessary medical attention and nursed back to health and then assimilated with other bears in a manner where they can grow and learn from their natural instincts. Large habitats are built on the ABR property so that as the bears grow they can learn to climb, play, forage for food and become healthy bears. With very limited human interaction this method allows the bears to be released back into the wild.

Appalachian Bear Rescue was born from necessity, the fall of 1989 was hard on the black bears of the Smokies. A severe hard mast (nut and seed) shortage had driven them into lower elevations to look for food. The resulting bear/human conflicts left an unusually large number of orphaned cubs. In those days it was thought to be more humane to euthanize the young cubs instead of letting them starve or be killed by older bears.

A group of dedicated volunteers decided to form Appalachian Black Bear Rehabilitation & Release Center, Inc. to help the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park care for the orphaned cubs of the Smokies. The very first bear, “Zero”, arrived on July 8, 1996 and was released on September 20, 1996. So far over 260 black bear cubs and yearlings have been assisted by the facility.

Beyond just caring for the bears ABR also has a visitor center designed to increase education and public awareness about coexisting with black bears.

We love our bears and to help support them Dancing Bearfoot is the only rental cabin in the Smokies that donates a portion from every guest stay to Appalachian Bear Rescue and also donates several vacation packages a year to ABR for fundraising purposes.

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals For This Initiative: