When the park opened in 1936 the Bear Pit was home to a black bear called Bruin. A tree was placed in the middle of the pit for him to climb and entertain the public. Bruin did not seem to like climbing and, in 1839, the Bear Pit was closed due to the noise and the smell.
In 1855 Sir Henry Hunloke gave two brown bears to the park. The two side rooms in the pit were where the bears slept at night. Local legend says that in 1876 a child fell into the pit and was killed. The bears were then removed.
For many years the Bearpit became Yorkshire’s biggest compost heap.
The Bear Pit was repaired during the garden restorations and a steel sculpture of a bear, by David Mayne, was installed.