"Lily" is a three-year-old black bear that is part of a long-term study on black bear ecology and behavior being conducted by the
Wildlife Research Institute
near Ely, Minnesota, less than 30 miles from the Canadian border. As WRI's principal biologist, Lynn Rogers, Ph.D., has radio-tracked over 100 bears in the vast forests of northeastern Minnesota, studying some for as long as 22 years. Bear Cam is an attempt by Rogers' team to capture the birth of black bear cubs in a den for the first time. The cub watch has set off an internet phenomenon and Rogers has graciously allowed us to embed the video feed on Outdoorlife.com.
Rogers also provides a daily blog roll about Lily’s progress in the den: The long wait is over. When labor started at 1:59 PM CST yesterday, we thought it would be short. Cubs average only ¾ pound and 9 inches long. How long could that take? Along with thousands of you, we spent a sleepless night as bouts of labor continued for 21 hours and 39 minutes. Finally, at 11:38 AM CST, Lily made some contortions, looked under her, and began the intense sweet motherly grunts that bears only make to cubs. Could it be? A loud squawk from the cub made it definite. Lily tucked her head under her chest to care for the cub and breathe on it.
A few minutes later there were more contortions. This time it was only the afterbirth. As Lily rose up to eat the afterbirth, she let cold air under her, making the cub squawk and making people wonder if it was a second cub. First litters are typically 1 or 2. We listened long and hard today but never heard two cub voices. Now at 8:23 PM, we think Lily is done. She had a single cub. She is now breathing a relaxed three breaths per minute instead of the four per minute prior to birth. We don’t see her muscles contracting like in the past couple days. Her restlessness is gone. However, just after 5 PM, Lily made a few motions reminiscent of last night. If another cub is coming, which we doubt, we’ll need the help of your eyes and ears to determine when it arrives. We can’t stay up another night. Sharing these discoveries with thousands of people like this is a highlight of our careers. It’s a purpose of the North American Bear Center. 50 exhibits of Lily and other wild bears show some of the most interesting behaviors we have witnessed. Snippets of some of those are on www.bear.org.
We’re looking forward to watching how Lily cares for this cub as it grows to as much as 9 pounds by mid-April–nearly twice the weight of cubs in multi-cub litters. We have never studied the relationship between a mother and a single cub to see how it might differ from the relationships between mothers and multiple cubs. We’re looking forward to seeing how that relationship develops.–Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, North American Bear Center
Every day we thank the donors who are helping reduce our debt as you can see on the thermometer. We thank them in our hearts and in these updates. Lily and her clan would thank you if she knew, because it helps all bears. Visits to the North American Bear Center website at www.bear.org have grown from 2000 a day to over 100,000 per day thanks to Lily! Changes are being made now to accommodate the additional traffic we expect to get in the days ahead.
It is exciting to see so many folks eager for T-shirts. We hope to have them for sale on-line by the end of today. The picture on the t-shirts is the familiar one. Three captions will be available: ‘Lily Fan’, ‘Held Captive By Lily’, and ‘I (red heart) Lily’. The t-shirts come in two colors–ash or natural. Natural is a light yellowish tan. Both are Gildan short-sleeved pre-shrunk t-shirts in youth and adult sizes up to XXXL. The ash t-shirt is 99% cotton and 1% polyester. The natural t-shirt is 100% heavy cotton.
Lily also has her own Facebook page
Lily near her den.
Lily as a yearling in June of 2008.
Lily in her den last winter (2008-2009). The bright ribbons on her radio-collar are to make her collar visible to hunters. Minnesota bear hunters are asked to pass on radio-collared bears.
Sow with Lily and her sibling feeding on ants in a rotting log.
Fresh out of the birth den in May of 2007.
Lily as a cub in April 2007
Click HERE to watch live streaming video of Bear Cam.
Click HERE to go to Bear Cam Click HERE to see the Video of the Cub’s being born!
THE CUBS ARE BORN! LIVE VIDEO: Bear Cam is an attempt by renowned bear biologist Lynn Rogers to capture the birth of black bear cubs in a den for the first time.