Thanks to technology, finding a romantic partner has never been easier. There are dozens of apps to help you find that special someone without having to ever leave the comfort of your house, let alone your city. But the same isn’t true for wildlife, that often have to put on elaborate mating displays or travel to specific areas to find their partners.

Take Bruno, for example. He’s an American black bear (Ursus americanus), one of the smallest of the three bear species found in North America. Bruno is shaggy, black, and weighs about 350 pounds (160 kgs). He’s an expert tree climber, has an excellent sense of smell, and is a happy omnivore. While the majority of his diet includes herbs, grasses, roots, buds, shoots, honey, nuts, fruit, berries and seeds, he occasionally dines on fish, small mammals, insects, carrion and garbage.

American black bears tend to be solitary animals except when mothers are with their cubs, during the breeding season, or when they meet up at feeding sites. So, while Bruno is usually okay being the lonesome bachelor, during the months of June and July he’s got something else on his mind: mating. Cubs are born in January or February after a gestation period of about 235 days, which means Bruno needs to hurry up and find a female to get jiggy with.

So, in early June, he departed his native Wisconsin and has spent time wandering through Illinois and Iowa in search of the perfect mate. He stuck south hanging out in the west-central Illinois region for most of June, where police even blocked off traffic on interstates to allow Bruno safe passage. But experts say these two states no longer have black bear populations as they were decimated in the 19th century due to hunting, so Bruno may have gotten twisted around looking for the state of Missouri.

Much of his trip has been documented by a Facebook page, "Keeping Bruno Safe," where people are monitoring his journey. The now-famous bear has also developed a global fanbase thanks to media outlets covering his adventure. Bruno has picked up fans as far afield as the UK with the Daily Mail declaring: "We’re rooting for you, Bruno!"

Illinois resident Joe Hartsock filmed Bruno swimming to Missouri:


According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the large bear was spotted in the state last weekend, having "cornered himself" north of Interstate 70 and near Interstate 40. "The bear found itself in a tough spot, stuck by several major roadways," State Furbearer Biologist Laura Conlee said in a statement. "Due to the proximity to the roadways, coupled with the busy travel day, MDC staff determined the bear had little chance of safely leaving the area on its own. In the interest of public safety and the bear’s safety, MDC staff made the decision to immobilise the bear and transport it to a nearby area of suitable bear habitat outside this urban corridor."

Dan Zarlenga of the Missouri Department of Conservation told WGN9 Chicago that if people see Bruno, "consider yourself lucky, snap a picture, report his location and give him his space." He also said to not approach the bear or feed it, as they can be a bit testy during mating season.

Want to see if Bruno finds his bear-y special mate? You can cheer Bruno’s continuing journey on the Facebook group.

Header image: Ben Forsyth