Ober Gatlinburg’s Wildlife Encounter is proud to share with visitors our black bear family, including Minnie and BJ, and their now grown 4yr olds, Holly and Chief.
See our River Otters playing at the underwater viewing area, our beautiful Bobcats and our Birds of Prey in an enclosed aviary. Eventually fox and other native species will also have homes at this new facility.
Our Nocturnal House includes various species of native Smokies wildlife such as raccoons, skunks, flying squirrels, turtles and snakes.
No Food or Drink is allowed in the Wildlife Encounter.
NOTE: Some animals hibernate in the winter and may not be available for viewing.
PLEASE NOTE: During winter months (Dec, Jan, Feb) the Bears may be in hibernation, so out of public view.
Ticket valid for unlimited visits the day of purchase. Ages 6 or under must be with adult age 18 or older.
$ 7Ages 12 and Older
$ 5Ages 5 - 11 yrs( 4 & Under Free )
The Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg is a privately funded, municipally sponsored zoo, licensed by the U.S.D.A. as an exhibitor. It has been put in place to provide people with an up close viewing of native wildlife in a safe environment. State law in Tennessee protects native wildlife from live capture and trade, and restricts possession of live animals to municipal zoos and university facilities. No wild animals are ever captured for exhibition; all new acquisitions are from other U.S.D.A. licensed zoos or are rescue animals. The Habitat was expanded in 2007 and now not only exhibits American black bears, but also river otters, bobcats, raccoon, skunks, flying squirrels, a red squirrel, eight different bird of prey species, and a variety of reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
The Habitat includes three separate concrete enclosures, two of which house the black bear, one houses the river otters. There are outside flight enclosures for the diurnal birds of prey and a new bobcat enclosure opened fall of 2014. The Nocturnal house has nocturnal birds of prey, raccoons, skunks and flying squirrels. The reptile house has a variety of small reptiles, amphibians, fish and a red squirrel.
All enclosures are cleaned daily by wildlife staff. The bears are trapped in their dens and fed while cleaning is taking place. Expansion digging areas and more extensive climbing areas have been added to the bear enclosures, but the concrete was left to allow for more effective cleaning, which in turn keeps the bears healthier.
All our animals are on strict diets, scientifically developed by the country’s top zoologists. These balanced diets are far better than their normally available natural diet, so our bears (for instance) grow bigger, faster, and live longer than wild bears. Our animals are given enough food throughout the day to satisfy their hunger. No public feeding is allowed due to the behavior abnormalities it produces.
Our animals’ medical care (including yearly checkups) is provided by the University Of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital, widely accepted as one of the top few teaching and treatment animal hospitals in the world.
The bears are off exhibit while in hibernation, but all the other animals are awake and out in all but the most extreme weather. The bobcats and otters both very much enjoy playing in the snow throughout the winter. All of the animals inside are also available for viewing throughout the winter.