Maximus the Bear Grows Up

Maximus the Florida black bear walks through his exhibit.

Last year, we were thrilled to announce the addition of a new wildlife ambassador resident at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park: Maximus the Florida black bear. We’ve got more news about “Max” and an update on his story.

Maximus the Florida black bear stands on a rock.

Born in the wild in February 2019, young Maximus was abandoned by his mother for unknown reasons. The juvenile Florida black bear weighed a mere four pounds when he was rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

The tiny bear received medical care, around-the-clock supervision, and frequent feedings.

Despite caregivers’ best efforts, FWC deemed the young bear non-releasable because he had imprinted on humans. Fortunately, there was space available for a resident bear at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Florida’s only wildlife state park works in cooperation with FWC to rehabilitate orphaned black bears and release them back into the wild, and has facilities to house several non-releasable bears.

Max is no longer a “tiny bear.” As a young adult, he’s grown significantly in the past year.

Max has spent the last several months acclimating to the sounds and smells near the park’s public areas and learning to shift from his night house to his daytime enclosure. 

It is with great excitement that the park rangers at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park announce that Maximus has been introduced onto exhibit. At a year and a half old, Max has grown up enough to navigate and safely explore his outdoor home. Max will spend time outside on exhibit. Currently, he is not on a rotating schedule or on exhibit at consistent times. However, he likely will be in the future.

The Florida black bear is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear and the only bear species in Florida.

While they may look slow because of their shuffling walk, black bears can sprint at up to 35 miles an hour! Olympic gold-medalist, Usain Bolt, can only reach 27 miles per hour.

Florida black bears live mostly solitary lives and travel large distances in search of food. Now limited to under half of their original range, these bears depend on state parks and other public lands to survive in urbanized Florida. Programs such as Florida Forever and the Florida Wildlife Corridor connect natural lands to help give bears and other wildlife the space they need.

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