Gerry the bear

Gerry, one of Grandfather Mountain’s resident bears, passed away June 20 at the age of 31.

LINVILLE — On Saturday, June 20, Grandfather Mountain bid farewell to Gerry the black bear.

Gerry was humanely euthanized following a long history of debilitating arthritis. She was 31 years old. In the wild, black bears live into their early 20s, while those in captivity can live up to and beyond 30, according to a statement released by the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship.

“Gerry was loved by everyone who had the chance to meet her,” said Deborah Anderson, assistant habitats curator for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Linville nature preserve. “She was a sassy bear, always sure to let the other bears know just how she felt about them. She was just the best bear.”

Gerry was born in the wild in Northern Michigan and then orphaned at two months of age.

“She settled on high, having been friends with the late Hugh Morton, founder of the Grandfather Mountain nature park. On June 5, 1992, at 3-and-a-half years old, Gerry moved across several states with her three cubs,” the statement said.

“Gerry was a very special bear to us all,” said Jesse Pope, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation president and executive director. “I had the pleasure of working with her when I was a keeper early in my career, and I have nothing but fond memories of my interactions with her.”

According to her keepers, Gerry preferred hanging out with humans over other bears and happily resided in one of the bear habitats by herself. She loved staring at the views from her “back porch,” getting treats and teasing the bears in the neighboring enclosure.

“She was very gentle around her keepers,” Pope continued. “However, even as a smaller female bear, she was ferocious to the other bears and could definitely hold her own. It was almost like she was defending the keepers.”

In Memoriam

To celebrate Gerry’s legacy, Grandfather Mountain is accepting donations in her memory, which will aid in the care of its resident animals, all of whom were either orphaned or injured in the wild or born into captivity before arriving at Grandfather, thus unfit for release into the wild.

The animals also have an wish list, featuring food, toys and supplies. Donors can choose a gift for their favorite animal, purchase it online, and have it delivered straight to Grandfather Mountain for immediate enjoyment by their furry or feathered friends. The list of suggested items is available at

The nonprofit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325, or visit to book a visit.

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