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7 Best Documentaries About Bears

These documentaries about bears offer an intimate glimpse into the lives of these charismatic yet formidable creatures. From the icy landscapes of Alaska to the dense forests of North America and the bamboo-laden mountains of China, filmmakers have captured the fascinating behaviours, struggles, and triumphs of bears in various ecosystems.

Documentaries About Bears

Whether delving into the intricate dynamics of bear families, shedding light on conservation efforts, or documenting the delicate balance between human and bear interactions, these documentaries about bears provide a compelling narrative that transcends the boundaries between the animal kingdom and our own.

Grizzly Man (2005)

Grizzly Man explores the life and death of Timothy Treadwell, an environmentalist and bear enthusiast who lived among wild grizzly bears in Alaska for 13 summers. Treadwell spent much of his time in Katmai National Park and Preserve, filming and documenting the bears.

The documentary is based on Treadwell’s own footage, along with interviews conducted by Herzog with people who knew Treadwell, including friends, family, and park rangers. Treadwell’s goal was to protect the bears and educate the public about their conservation.

However, in October 2003, Treadwell and his girlfriend Amie Huguenard were killed and partially consumed by a grizzly bear.

Werner Herzog provides his own commentary and reflections on Treadwell’s life, his relationship with nature, and the inherent dangers of living in close proximity to wild animals. This is hands down one of the best documentaries about bears that you can watch.

Bears (2014)

Bears focuses on the lives of wild animals in their natural habitats. In particular, “Bears” follows the journey of a family of Alaskan brown bears.

The film primarily centres around a mother bear named Sky and her two cubs, Amber and Scout, as they navigate the challenges of the Alaskan wilderness during a year of seasonal changes. The narrative highlights the bears’ struggle for survival, including finding food, avoiding predators, and dealing with various environmental obstacles.

“Bears” combines stunning wildlife cinematography with a family-friendly storytelling approach, making it accessible to audiences of all ages.

Pandas: The Journey Home (2014)

Pandas: The Journey Home takes viewers behind the scenes of the efforts to breed and reintroduce giant pandas into the wild in China. It follows the journey of a panda named Qian Qian, from her birth at the Chengdu Panda Base to her training for eventual release into the wild.

The documentary not only showcases the adorable and iconic nature of giant pandas but also highlights the challenges faced by conservationists in their efforts to increase the panda population and protect the species.

It explores the complex process of preparing captive-bred pandas for life in the wild and the collaborative initiatives between wildlife experts and local communities.

The film aims to raise awareness about the importance of conservation, particularly for endangered species like giant pandas, and the role humans can play in preserving their natural habitats.

Great Bear Stakeout (2013)

Great Bear Stakeout is not a feature film but a three-part television series produced by the BBC Natural History Unit. The series focuses on the grizzly bears of the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the wilderness of Alaska and Canada.

It follows the lives of various grizzly bears during different seasons, highlighting their behaviours, interactions, and struggles for survival. It provides an intimate and in-depth look at the bears as they go through the challenges of finding food, establishing territories, mating, and raising cubs.

The title “Great Bear Stakeout” refers to the use of advanced camera technology, including motion-activated cameras and remote-controlled drones, to capture unprecedented and up-close footage of the bears.

The Bear Family and Me (2011)

The Bear Family and Me is a three-part documentary series presented by wildlife cameraman and presenter Gordon Buchanan. In this series, Buchanan explores the lives of wild bears, focusing on the interactions between bear families and the challenges they face in their natural habitats.

The three episodes of “The Bear Family and Me” are:

  1. “The Wild Year: Spring” – Buchanan begins his journey in Minnesota, USA, during spring, observing and documenting the behaviours of black bear families as they emerge from hibernation.
  2. “The Wild Year: Summer” – This episode continues the exploration of black bears, following the families through the summer months as they forage for food and care for their cubs.
  3. “The Wild Year: Autumn” – Buchanan concludes the series by observing the bears in autumn, as they prepare for winter hibernation, and reflects on the challenges and dangers they face.

The series is known for its intimate and up-close footage of bear families, capturing their daily lives and struggles in the wild. Gordon Buchanan uses a variety of filming techniques, including camera traps and special rigs, to get remarkable shots while minimizing his impact on the bears’ behaviour.

Bears of the Last Frontier (2011)

Bears of the Last Frontier is a three-part nature documentary series that is hosted and narrated by ecologist and wildlife biologist Chris Morgan. In “Bears of the Last Frontier,” Morgan explores the wild habitats of Alaska to study and observe the three primary species of bears found in the region: brown bears, black bears, and polar bears.

The three episodes of the series are titled:

  1. “Arctic Wanderers” – Focuses on polar bears in the Arctic.
  2. “The Grizzlies of Alaska” – Explores the lives of brown bears in the Alaska Peninsula.
  3. “The Black Bears of Alaska” – Examines the behaviour and ecology of black bears in the boreal forests of Alaska.

Throughout the series, Chris Morgan delves into the unique challenges and behaviours of each bear species, detailing their adaptations to the harsh environments they inhabit. The documentary also addresses the broader ecological and environmental issues facing these bears, such as climate change and the impact on their habitats.

Clan of the North: Kingdom of the Polar Bears

A search in the Manitoba wilderness for a polar bear den in hopes of capturing the first moments of a cub’s life in the wild.


Documentaries about bears serve as powerful windows into the wild, allowing us to witness the untamed beauty and inherent challenges these remarkable creatures face.

As we follow their journeys through changing landscapes, familial bonds, and conservation efforts, we gain a deeper appreciation for the intricate ecosystems in which bears play a vital role.

For more wildlife, have a look at the 10 best documentaries about wolves.

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