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

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Marsican Bear
© Massimiliano Manuel

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.

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.

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

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The Rare Marsican Bear

Marsican Brown Bear

Marsican brown bears are a critically endangered species, with only about 50 surviving in the wild.

© – License

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 kilometer 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?

Marsican bears, also known as Apennine brown bears, are a critically endangered species found only in central Italy. They have a lifespan of approximately 20-25 years in the wild. However, their longevity can be affected by various factors such as habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting activities, and disease outbreaks.

The Marsican bear population has been declining rapidly due to human encroachment on their habitats and poaching for body parts that are used in traditional medicine. These threats have led to a decrease in genetic diversity among the population, which makes them more susceptible to diseases.

A female Marsican brown bear walking through the forest

Marsican brown bears usually live 20-25 years in the wild.

©Claudio Bottoni/

Efforts are being made by conservationists to protect this rare species through various measures, including habitat conservation programs and anti-poaching initiatives. The survival of Marsican bears is crucial not just for the ecological balance but also for cultural reasons, as they play an important role in Italian folklore.

In conclusion, while Marsican bears may live up to 25 years in the wild if left undisturbed by humans or other environmental factors, it is critical that we take steps toward protecting these beautiful creatures from extinction so that future generations can continue to enjoy their presence on Earth.

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

Marsican Bear

Marsican bears are significantly smaller than brown bears.

© Massimiliano Manuel

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.

While both Marsican bears and brown bears belong to the same family of Ursidae, they have distinct physical differences that set them apart. The Marsican bear, also known as the Apennine brown bear, is a subspecies of the brown bear native to central Italy. It is smaller in size compared to its cousin, the Eurasian brown bear or grizzly bear.

The most noticeable difference between these two species is their physical appearance. Marsican bears have shorter snouts and rounded ears compared to the more elongated snout and pointed ears of brown bears. Additionally, while both species have shaggy fur coats with varying shades of browns and blacks, Marsican bears tend to be lighter in color with less pronounced markings on their faces.

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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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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