State Animal

California Grizzly Bear
Pictured: North American brown bear

Ursus arctos californicus

California’s State Animal is the California grizzly bear. As the state’s largest and fiercest predator, the grizzly had California to itself for hundreds of thousands of years. They lived 20-30 years, were 4.5 feet at the shoulder and were 8 feet tall when standing. Females weighed about 400 pounds while males weighed 1,000 pounds. They could run 35 miles per hour for short distances, had a humped shoulder, and were brown-golden in color.

The loss of habitat and over-hunting by a rapidly growing human population led to their complete extinction by the 1920s. In 1953, the California grizzly became the official State Animal and remains one of the state’s most enduring and visible symbols. Notably, California is the only state in the union that carries the image of an extinct animal on its state flag and seal.

(Assembly Bill 1014, Chapter 1140, 1953)

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