Bear visits Tennessee theme park for stroll along treetop walkway, video shows


The Tennessee theme park where guests have already filmed bears crossing in front of an active thrill ride and another bear rummaging through a restaurant trash can is in the news once again after — surprise! — a bear infiltrated one of is attractions.

On Monday, the Anakeesta theme park in Gatlinburg shared footage of a bear on its TreeTop Skywalk, taking a leisurely stroll across the suspended bridges last Thursday.

The Skywalk, which is intended to provide guests with a bird’s eye view of the forest canopy, is billed as the “longest tree-based skywalk in North America” by the theme park, with 880 feet of walkway suspended between 50 and 60 feet in the air.

“Keep a sharp eye, you may spot a bear on the forest floor below or a woodpecker nearby,” reads the park’s official (and now ironically hilarious) description of the attraction on Anakeesta’s website.

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A representative for Anakeesta confirmed to Fox News that the park was open and operational during the bear’s visit to the SkyWalk, although very few guests were in attendance that day. The staff were the first to notice the bear on the bridges, and made sure to “closely” monitor its behavior until it left the park, she added.

“Located so close to the [Great Smoky Mountains] National Park, Anakeesta is a natural wildlife corridor so it is not uncommon to see a bear when visiting,” said Michele Canney, who said it’s not uncommon to see bears at this time of year, as many are “waking up” from hiberation. “Typically the bears stick to the forest floor but I guess this one heard about our exciting treetop adventures in the Smokies and wanted to try the TreeTop SkyWalk out for himself!”

Video of the bear’s Thursday visit was also captured by a manager at Anakeesta who was trained in bear safety, Canney added.

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Canney had previously spoken with Fox News following a bear sighting at Anakeesta in Sept. 2020, when a family of bears were filmed crossing the tracks of a mountain coaster just as a vehicle of riders were approaching from up the hill. The park was also very familiar with the mama bear seen in that video (which went viral on TikTok), telling Fox News her name was “Ana.”

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The following month, patrons at the theme park’s Smokehouse restaurant had also filmed a bear rummaging through a trash can before being chased down a set of stairs.

“Please remember, if you encounter a bear at Anakeesta, or while visiting the Great Smokies Mountain National Park, please remain a safe distance away and never approach a bear,” Canney warned in a statement shared with Fox News.

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The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency states that black bears are “usually tolerant” and “rarely aggressive” toward humans, but should always be treated as wild animals as their behavior is unpredictable.



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