Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Catching up with Lily and Hope

The black bears have been busy this winter. In case you are not keeping track of them, Lily had cubs again this winter, in the den she shares with her daughter from last year, Hope. As no team has had the chance to observe something like this ever before, there were all kinds of questions, including would Lily be worried about having another bear near her new babies? Would Hope be willing to share her mommy with them? Would Hope be careful of the babies? Hope is rather famous for being a very rambunctious bear who loves to rough house.

As the weeks have passed, Lily and Hope's huge fan base has gotten to watch as the bear family settles in. The two little new cubs, a boy and a girl (as yet unnamed), are healthy and vigorous. Lily is a gentle and loving mother, and Hope is being an exemplary big sister. She still wants to nurse, and it has gotten worse since the new little ones came, but there is milk for everybody. She occasionally got a little jealous of the babies, but was really quite good. Lately she has been feeling very playful, and in the past few days, there has been lots of gentle wrestling between her and her mother, with the tiny cubs tucked carefully out of the way.

Then, with the past couple of days' warm spell in Northern Minnesota, the little ones suddenly started moving around more, because they were warm enough to get out of their mommy's fur and play a little, and Hope has been taking full advantage of the situation. She plays gently with the cubs as long as Lily will let her. Yesterday was a big play day for the three cubs. Lily kept the babies for most of the day! Very little complaint from the little cubs as their big sister mauled them around. I am astounded at how careful the big bears can be with their teeth, claws and paws.

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