Knoxville/ Parks & Nature
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Published on June 22, 2024
Black Bear's Snack Run at Anakeista's Concession Stand Leads to Surprising Human Encounter Source: Unsplash/ Pete Nuij

Guests at Anakeesta, a mountaintop attraction nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, received more excitement than they bargained for when a black bear, looking for its evening snack, wandered into a concession stand via an employee entrance. WATE reports that the bear's foray into "Bear Can" occurred around 9:30 p.m last Thursday. The uninvited guest attempted to backtrace its path but bumped into an Anakeesta worker entering the stand, leading to a startled but brief contact between the two.

Neither party, according to officials from the adventure park, was harmed during the encounter. The park confirmed through a press release, "The employee was not seriously injured and opted not to receive medical attention." This statement, obtained by WBIR, ensured guests that the incident didn't disrupt Anakeesta's operations. Still, the unexpected meeting between bear and human underscores the delicate balance required when nature and tourism intersect.

The occurrence was recorded and promptly spread on social media, capturing the attention of many. Austin Martin, the Communications Manager at Anakeesta, reminded the public in a statement acquired by WVLT News, "Bears are a big part of the magic in the Great Smoky Mountains." Martin emphasized the park's commitment to creating safe interactions between guests and the indigenous wildlife. However, in an unwelcome twist to the fairy-tale-like coexistence, representatives from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency mentioned that if caught, the bear would face euthanasia.

Anakeesta, a park known for its elevated tree walks and scenic views, is literally surrounded by the habitat of black bears on three sides, making such an encounter less unusual than one might think. They encourage visitors to enjoy bear sightings from a safe remove. Anakeesta has also partnered with the non-profit Friends of the Smokies to conserve the neighboring national park and its furry inhabitants. Despite the scare, it's evident that both Anakeesta staff and wildlife agencies strive to maintain a space where people and animals can "co-exist," a sentiment stressed by Martin in his communication to the press.