California’s Official Animal

GrizzlyThe California grizzly (Ursus californicus), the largest and most powerful of land predators, once thrived 10,000 strong in the great valleys and low mountains of the state before Europeans arrived.  Although extinct in California since 1908, elsewhere they remain large and ferocious beasts. Adult females weigh 330 to 770 pounds and males grow to between 510 and 990 pounds, from a newborn weight of less than one pound. Grizzlies have a low reproduction rate, in part due to a five-year wait for reproductive maturity.  On average, a female produces two cubs per litter, and cares for these offspring for two years, during which time she will not mate. Once her young leave, a female may not produce another litter for 3 or more years, depending on environmental conditions. Grizzlies are omnivores, since their diet consists of both plants and animals. In North America, the species is now found only in Alaska, western Canada, and portions of Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming, extending as far south as Yellowstone and Grand Teton National parks. The California grizzly—whose name derives from grizzled or gray hairs in the fur—was designated the state’s official animal in 1953.

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