Second black bear trash bandit caught on camera at Anakeesta

Anakeesta black bear

This black bear attempted a getaway with a bag of trash in front of onlookers at Anakeesta (video provided by Nathan Rodriguez)

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This week, visitors at Anakeesta in Gatlinburg, Tenn., received yet another surprise from a black bear as it attempted to make a getaway with a bag of trash. 

Nathan Rodriguez was there to capture the moment on camera. The video is embedded below.

“It was our first time at Anakeesta,” Nathan said. 

Nathan was in line for the Rail Runner with his sister-in-law Madison and her friend Ciera, when all of the sudden, Ciera spotted the bear and brought it to their attention. 

“It was our first encounter with a bear, so it was awesome but definitely a little nerve racking at the same time,” Nathan said. “I got my phone out to catch a video of it for the memories. The staff at Anakeesta acted fairly quickly with moving us all out of the way and getting the bear out of the immediate area.” 

Visitors at Anakeesta
Nathan and his family visited Anakeesta from Munford, Tenn. From left to right are Amelia, Tianna, Nathan, Madison and Ciera (photo submitted by Nathan Rodriguez)

According to Nathan, a member of the kitchen staff of the nearby restaurant had just laid out a bag of trash and turned to grab another bag when the bear made its way to the bottom level of the kitchen.

“The bear didn’t harm anyone as you can see from the video, and obviously was just wanting a quick drive thru meal,” Nathan said. “But it was an awesome experience, and I’m glad I was there to capture the moment!”

Nathan and his family were visiting the Smokies from Munford, Tenn. 

Watch the latest black bear encounter at Anakeesta

Anakeesta is no stranger to black bear encounters. Due to the nature of the attraction and its high elevations, black bears have been spotted at the park on several occasions.

In fact, earlier this season a family of black bears went viral after they were filmed casually crossing Anakeesta’s mountain coaster, the Rail Runner, while a guest was riding. That video, which was originally posted on TikTok, racked up more than a million views. 

Read More: Anakeesta guest has close encounter with a family of bears in viral video

This most recent encounter video is available above. The video, submitted by Nathan and Tianna, captures two different perspectives of the event.

No guests were harmed.

The importance of black bear safety in the Smokies

As with every article we write about bear encounters, and every video we share, we like to remind our readers about the importance of black bear safety.

While garbage is enticing to bears, it is also harmful to them. It is important to keep trash away from bears whenever possible (even if they try to sneak into it!) 

And while this bear approached humans, and not the other way around, the National Park Service reminds us that it is important not to approach a black bear and not to let a black bear approach you whenever reasonably possible. 

Read More: What to do if you see a black bear in the Smokies; 3 safety tips

“If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, changes its travel direction, watches you, etc.) you are too close,” reads the website. 

If a black bear seems to have taken an interest in you, back away slowly, and do not turn your back to the bear.

In the very improbable event that a black bear attacks, do NOT play dead. (This tip only works for brown bears and grizzly bears). Attempt to scare it away. Use spray if available. You can fight back by using sticks, rocks, fists, etc., aiming for its eyes and snout. If you fight back, most black bears will give up. 

We would also like to take a moment and commend the swift actions of the Anakeesta staff who always do their best to treat their guests like gold, keeping them entertained and safe.

Anakeesta is located at 576 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. To learn more about Anakeesta or to purchase tickets, visit them online at For more information about black bears in the Smoky Mountains, visit

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at for questions or comments.


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