The Return of Grizzly 399!
A month or so ago, we posted about Grizzly 399, the famous mama bear for whom the world (or at least a small, bear-aware segment of the population) was awaiting with bated breath.
As a recap, grizzly bears usually live 20-25 years. Not only is 399 still alive and kicking at 27, but she’s still Bear Mother of the Year. If she were human, she’d be collecting Social Security and driving the kids to soccer practice.
Now 399 has emerged from hibernation at last with one more healthy cub in tow.
On Tuesday, May 16, around 2:45 p.m., Grizzly 399 made her grand appearance in her usual spot, the Pilgrim Creek area of Teton Park. Word got out through the grapevine, and soon a crowd assembled to witness this momentous occasion.
Wildlife photographer Jorn Vangoidtsenhoven describes 399’s current condition:
“Both mom and her new offspring look great. Her cub looks to be in good health and pretty big (I guess it helps if you have only have to feed one versus the four she had in 2020!) and 399 herself doesn’t look skinny at all, which you may expect after just coming out of hibernation and having given birth.”
This little cub, whose gender is still unknown, is 399’s first offspring since 2020. Back then, she surprised everyone by emerging from hibernation with an unprecedented brood of four cubs.
It should be noted that from here, it’s still an uphill battle for the cub. Fewer than 50% of grizzly bear cubs live to see their first birthday, and many don’t make it through their first summer. Older male bears will often pick off the cubs to make their mothers more fertile. It’s not that female bears are particular into that—it’s just that the female won’t mate again till she’s raised her cubs. So, like the evil suburban dad in a Netflix true crime series, the male has to get the kids out of the way so he can get some alone time with their mom. (Sorry, that got dark. But the animal kingdom is not a nice place.)
That’s all to say that we wish 399’s new cub well, and hopefully he or she grows up to be the natural world’s next big star. Or at least doesn’t get eaten by a jealous stepfather.
This post is brought to you by Flat Creek Inn, which has no bears in its rooms, thank you very much. We’re fancy like that.
Ryan Kunz is a copywriter and freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics, including media, the outdoors, and whatever else strikes his fancy. He once saw a bear hiking and did not stay to ask it how old it was.