Nature Canada

The Bear-Truth: Yogi Bear

Image of Evan Dudley

Evan Dudley, Guest Blogger

This blog was written by guest blogger Evan Dudley.

Whether you are young or old, the chances are high that you are familiar with the popular cartoon of Yogi Bear. His wild adventures and shenanigans throughout Jellystone Park have delighted us for many years but the mystery remains: is this lovable bear a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear? Nature Canada seeks to shed some light on this unidentified, furry comedian.

Defining Features


First let’s look at the place he calls home, Jellystone Park. Now although Jellystone is a fictional park created by the animators, it is widely believed that it is based off of Yellowstone National Park (located mainly in Wyoming.) Due to the fact that the park is home to the Grizzly and Black Bear, we won’t be able to use location as a determinant.

Image of yogi the bear

Is Yogi a Black or Grizzly Bear?


When we look at the population of each bear in Yellowstone, with the Grizzly Bear of a population ranging from 280-610, and the Black Bear ranging from 500-650, it does appear that the odds slightly tilt towards the Black Bear.


Let’s look then at Yogi’s appearance. In the animated series Yogi Bear is presented as having a light brown coat. Now although the grizzly presents a similar feature, it is not uncommon to see a Black Bear with a similar tone of brown (despite what the name suggests.)


Consider Yogi’s diet.  In the animated series, Yogi is known for his love of “pic-a-nic” baskets, which is a constant theme of the series. However, both the Black Bear and Grizzly Bear are known to scavenge for food, with their diets being fairly similar. Another stalemate it appears.


Both the Grizzly Bear and Black Bear are also known to walk on their hind legs, which appear to be Yogi’s preferred way of travel, however it is known that the Grizzly Bears do so more regularly.


Another determining feature is Yogi Bear’s size. The Black Bear and the Grizzly Bear differ greatly when looking at adult males. An adult male Grizzly Bear averages around 8 ft tall standing up, and weighs around 270kg. An adult Black Bear averages 5-6 ft tall and weighs in around 150 kg, a great deal smaller. When comparing Yogi to the Yellowstone Park Ranger (Ranger Smith), who appears to be an adult male of average height (6 ft), Yogi bear falls further into the Black Bear category.

Image of a Black BearImage of a Grizzly female and cub


The last and possibly the most important feature is based on Yogi’s iconic catchphrase, “Smarter than the average bear.” It is known that the Grizzly Bear is smarter than the average Black Bear, mainly due to its larger brain size. With this in mind we can make the argument that Yogi bear could very well be a Grizzly Bear despite his size difference.


A toss up. A strong case could be put forth for both species of bears and maybe that is the way the animators imagined him. Perhaps Yogi Bear was never meant to fit into one particular category or species, this could be the reason animators never confirmed which species he is based on.

If you have an opinion one-way or the other we would love to hear from you! Comment below or complete our quick poll below to vote on what bear Yogi could be! Don’t forget that August is Grizzly Bear month here at Nature Canada, please help us protect these beautiful creatures and their habitat.

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