How Long Do Bears Live? You Have The Answer Here!

how long do bears live

These days, bears are in the news! Whether it is the life-saving story of a hiker in Alaska or the tale of BB-12, an adventurous omnivore from the National Park Service, Los Angeles, USA, who has been making news for its short lifespan. These headlines have prompted a couple of queries on the internet, with netizens wanting to know – how long do bears live if they all have the same life span, and the factors behind their lifespan! 

We bring you the answers! For the record, bears have an average lifespan of 20-25 years, but some of them can live up to 30 years! Also, since they are at the top of the food chain within most ecosystems, they have minimal natural predators to take on them. But other factors have a role to play in their living on this planet. 

Scroll down for the details – 

How long do bears live when spoken on average? 

For the unversed, as mentioned before – on average, a bear can live anywhere between 20-25 years, while some go up to 30 years (polar bears). However, their lifespan categorically depends on their species, area of living, and gender. 

Simply put it depends on the – 

Species of the bear

Polar bears can live up to 30 years, while black bears live up to 20 years. At the same time, brown bears have a lifespan between 20-25 years. 


Certain studies have categorically revealed that their female counterparts outlive their males by an impressive 18%! In fact, when one talks of brown bears, the females supposedly outlive their males by 8.5 years. 

Whether in the wild or captivity

Credible data shows that when bears are placed in captivity, their lifetime increases by an average of 5 years. This is because they, compared to those in the wild, are privy to better health and nutrition facilities. 

Now let us look at – how long various species of bears live. 

Do different bear species have different lifespans? 

They do. Let us look at the facts – 

1. Polar bear 

They are mostly found in the Arctic Circle, along with parts of Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Alaska. 

Polar bear 
Image Credit: World Wildlife Fund

Lifespan – Normally around 20-25 years, it may stretch up to 30 years. In captivity, they may survive up to 40 years. 

2. Spectacled bear 

As natives of the Andes Mountains (South America), they are the only type of bears found in that region. Their distinct feature includes markings around their eyes that somewhat look like spectacles. 

how long do bears live
Image Credit: Wild View – Wildlife Conservation Society

Lifespan – Want to know how long do bears live, either in the wild or captivity? Well, they could live up to 20 years in the wild and range up to 25 years in captivity. 

3. Black bear 

They are the ones that you read about in storybooks! Smallest of their kind, they are found in Asia and North America. 

Black bear 
Image Credit: Britannica

Lifespan – They supposedly live up to 20-25 years in the wild and up to 30 years in captivity. 

4. Giant panda 

The only member of the bear family who is herbivorous in nature. They are mostly found in bamboo villages and are inhabitants of central China

how long do bears live
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Lifespan – They normally live for 20-30 years. Do you know how long do bears live in captivity? They could live up to 35 years. 

5. Brown bear 

These bears are mostly found in – Asia, North America, and Europe

Brown bear 
Image Credit: PBS

Lifespan – They could live up to 20-30 years in the wild and up to 35 years when placed under restrictions. 

6. Sun bear 

Primarily found in Southeast Asia, they are small in size and have the lowest longevity. 

how long do bears live
Image Credit: Britannica

Lifespan – They live for merely 10-15 years, with a maximum of 20 years when placed under restrictions. 

7. Sloth bear 

Primarily nocturnal, they are mostly found in Sri Lanka and India. They usually survive on insects but may gorge on fruits and vegetables as well. 

sloth bear
Image Credit: National Zoo

Lifespan – They have a general lifespan of 20-25 years. In captivity, it could go up to 30 years. 

8. Asiatic bear 

With a V-shaped mark on their chest, they are the natives of Asia. 

how long do bears live
Image Credit: The Third Pole

Lifespan – Supposedly, they live for 25-30 years in the wild and up to 40 years when placed with specific restrictions. 

What are the factors that affect a bear’s lifespan? 

Now that you know how long do bears live, you might be curious to know if and how the external factors affect their lifespan. We will give you insights on the same. 

The bear is naturally equipped to deal with harsh external factors (a thick fur coat for low temperatures, increased sense of taste and smell, claws for digging, and a diverse dietary preference). Therefore, in general, they are well-prepped. Yet – 

  1. When placed in the wild, a bear’s dietary choices are becoming limited. Environment change is the biggest reason behind this. Naturally, their life expectancy is getting affected with every passing day. 
  2. The changing environment is also giving rise to multifarious diseases that the bears in the wild are not equipped to deal with, resulting in their death. 
  3. The third factor that affects their lifespan – is the danger from predators. Bear hunting and poaching (a bear’s body parts are of significant value in traditional Chinese medicine) are the key reasons affecting their longevity in the wild. 
  4. The age of the parent bear is crucial when determining the lifespan of the cub. A child born of elderly bears has less chance of survival due to a weak immune system and more susceptibility to age-related diseases. 

Compared to those in the wild, if you ask how long do bears live when put in captivity, the statistics are a bit better. Since they are privy to the required nutrition and medical care, apart from security, their chances of survival are higher. 

Are there any conservation efforts for them? 

Given the current climate and habitat challenges, governments, both at the domestic and international levels, are working to ensure that the effect on them is reduced. 

  • They are listed on CITES, Appendix I, which prohibits the international trade of these species. 
  • There are several strict Federal laws like the Endangered Species Act to prevent bear hunting and protect their habitats.   
  • Also, multiple governments globally have kickstarted Bear Awareness Programs that educate people on their needs and behaviour patterns. These programs aim to reduce human-bear conflict and allow both parties to co-exist harmoniously in their respective spaces in society. 

Concluding thoughts 

Assuming you have read this post well, you are well-informed now about how long do bears live, how the lifespan depends on the various species, factors that determine their life, and the conservation programs. Therefore, unlike others, you are a bit better informed on these topics. In that case, share this post with less informed people and keep watching this space for more insights like this. 

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