Sunday, January 31, 2010

Black Bear Cub Born On The Web

All photos in this blog are courtesy of the North American Bear Center

My black bear blog for this month is the perfect complement to last month's blog about bears in their Winter dens. On the 22nd of January 2010, history was made near Ely, Minnesota (less than 30 miles from the Canadian border). A live video stream showed a female Black Bear in her Winter den give birth to the first-ever bear cub to be born on camera. The sow's name is Lily and she has become famous all across the globe, thanks to a team headed up by Dr. Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center in Ely. Lily has probably become the most famous black bear on earth.

Lily, at age 3, is known world wide

It all began on Jan. 8, 2010 when a live wildlife webcam was placed inside Lily's den (click here to see that footage). Soon afterwards, an appearance on NBC's Today show by Doug Hajicek (Den Cam Team Leader), and the news quickly spread like wildfire around the world that a Web site was streaming live video from within a pregnant black bear's den. Not expecting this much visitor traffic, the Web server crashed several times for the first week, but they kept at it and eventually managed to develop a strong backend to handle the heavy load of hits.

Lily's Den Entrance

Lily peering out

Notes from the researchers blog on January 22nd:

When labor first began, Lily violently slammed her body against the walls of her den which was believed by the researchers to be due to hard cramps. She then lay on her back, the muscles in her head flexing as she clenched her teeth in pain. This was certainly out of the ordinary behaviour for a hibernating bear.

Then, finally the long wait was over. Labor had continued for 21 hours which was far longer than any one had thought considering that cubs are so small when born. At 11.38am CST 25,000 people watched Lily make some last contortions and then listened to sweet grunts that only a mother bear makes to her cubs. Soon after you could hear the loud squawking of the cub.
(watch the video below to hear these sounds made by both mother and cub)

Click here to view the birth video on YouTube.

FEB 2010 UPDATE: A video that features footage of Lily and her cub in the den, February 21st.

MARCH 2010 UPDATE: A list of all video clips to date of Lily and her cub Hope (on YouTube).

APRIL 2010 UPDATE: A list of all video clips to date of Lily and her cub Hope on YouTube (on

Den Cam Updates: Articles written by the researchers about Lily and her cub Hope (on

Lily also has her own Facebook page with 75,000 fans as of January 31st, 2010!

Meet the people behind the bear den cam.

See the NBC Today Show segment after the birth of the cub.

Lily as a cub in April 2007

Lily with her mother, April 2007

Kudos to the entire Bear Den Cam team! In my opinion, this event has generated some much needed awareness and education towards the black bear species. People from all over have become intrigued with this bear and thus learning more about them. Between hollywood movies, hunting magazines and overall incorrect negative media produced just to sell (regarding attacks), black bears have been given an unfair bad image.

Professor Lynn Rogers of the North American Bear Center and the Wildlife Research Institute sums it up best as stating that people are moving into bear habitat like never before and as people learn more about black bears, they become more willing to coexist with them.

Did you know? On average, a first time black bear mother will only give birth to one cub. However it is not unusual that sometimes two cubs are born to a first time mother.

For more black bear photos, information and video clips, visit the black bears section of my Web site.