See Footage of The Rarest Bear on Earth: The Marsican Bear

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: April 6, 2023
© Massimiliano Manuel
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Continue Reading To See This Amazing Video

Key Points

  • The Marsican bear is a rare bear that is also known as the Apennine brown bear.
  • The female bear in this video is named Amarena and she gave birth to four healthy cubs in 2020 which has not been recorded for this species before.
  • Mortality rates for these bear cubs in the wild are thought to be about 50 percent.
Marsican Brown Bear
Marsican brown bears are a critically endangered species, with only about 50 surviving in the wild.

© – License

The Marsican bear (also known as the Apennine brown bear) is one of Italy’s treasures. Italy is home to more than 57,000 species of animals but the Marsican bear is the most endangered.

In fact, Italy is the most biodiverse of all the European countries primarily because it is at the point where several continents connect: Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

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Therefore, it can provide a wider range of ecological habitats including mountain ranges, woodland, shrublands, and 4,900 miles of coast.

The Rare Marsican Bear

There are eight different species of bear and the Marsican bear is a type of brown bear. Their scientific name is Ursus arctos marsicanus although not everyone accepts them as a separate species. They are found only in a specific 5,000 to 8,000 square kilometre area in the Appenine Mountains. Most of this is in the Abruzzo-Lazio-Molise National Park which was created in 1923 specifically to protect the bears.

Marsican bears are the rarest bears on earth. There are only 50-60 of them alive today. Their diet consists mainly of plants and they like apples, pears, prunes, tubers, roots, fungi, and berries although they will also hunt small animals and insects as well.

They have even been known to take sheep and cattle and this brings them into conflict with the local farmers.

Four Marsican bear cubs lined up behind a long, low rock
Marsican bears are a protected species in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

©Claudio Bottoni/

How Long Do Marsican Bears Live?

Their lifespan in the wild is 20 to 25 years but it can be over 30 years in captivity. Although, the mortality rate for cubs is around 50 percent which is fairly low. That is one reason this species of bear is protected in Italy.

A female Marsican brown bear walking through the forest
Marsican brown bears usually live 20-25 years in the wild.

©Claudio Bottoni/

The Bear named Amarena and Her Cubs

The wonderful female bear that we see in this video is called Amarena. She can be seen quite high up in a tree where she seems to be teaching her cubs how to climb and find food. We also see one of the cubs learning how to stand up on their two rear limbs which can be used as a sign of aggression when they are older but is also useful for reaching food from trees.

From the video, we learn video that Amarena gave birth to four healthy cubs in 2020 which has not been recorded for this species before. It is fairly unusual for all brown bears, who generally give birth to two cubs. The cubs seem to be well which is also great news – mortality for these bear cubs in the wild is thought to be 50 percent. Hopefully, this bodes well for the survival of the species.

Marsican Bears Vs. Brown Bears

The marsican bear is a member of the brown bear family, although they do have slight differences. While they are both omnivores and are nocturnal, there are a few of their contrasts.

Marsican BearBrown Bear
CharacteristicsCalm, no aggression toward humansShy but unpredictable in temperament
AppearanceMales’ head is short, large, and high, with a pronounced crest and a short muzzleRound in shape and small rounded ears, with a wide skull 
Weight300 to 500 pounds220 to 650 pounds
Height5 foot 9 inches – upright5.5 to 7 feet tall, upright

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Marsican Bear
Rare sighting of a Marsican Brown Bear above a pear tree.
© Massimiliano Manuel

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About the Author

Sharon has a Ph.D. in Public Health but has spent the last decade researching and writing about all things connected with animal health and well being. As a life-long animal lover, she now shares her family home with three rabbits, a Syrian hamster, and a very energetic Cocker Spaniel but in the past she has also been a Mom to Guinea Pigs and several cats!She has a passion for researching accurate and credible information about pets and reviewing products that make pet owners' lives a bit easier. When she isn't checking out new pet products she's trekking around the Welsh mountains and beaches with her dog - although she lets her husband and her three grown up daughters tag along sometimes if they are lucky!

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