Grizzly #399 (aka The Queen) is one of the oldest and most famous bears in the world! In Spring 2020, at 24 years of age she emerged from hibernation with an astonishing FOUR CUBS of the year! One or two cubs is common and triplets are rare, but only 2% of all grizzly litters have 4 cubs! And at 24 years old that is quite the feat! Most grizzlies don’t make it to 20, but some bears over 30 do exist in captivity. 399 truly is The Queen of the Greater Yellowstone.
Interestingly, bears have what is called delayed implantation. Meaning they mate in the spring, sometimes with multiple males, and give birth in the winter nearly 6 months later. Yet the gestation is only two months…How does that work?
After she mates in the spring, her body then stashes away the fertilized eggs until late fall/early winter when the female body determines how many cubs she can handle based on fat and nutrient content- essentially how much she had to eat. That way, when she goes into hibernation she only gives birth to the number of cubs she can sustain. The cubs, only 8 ounces at birth and blind, then suckle on the mom for months in the den and then they all emerge together that spring. Most cubs stay with their mom for approx 2 years, and then she kicks them out to mate again. Mother Grizzly bears provide some of the longest parental care of mammal. The fathers don’t do any work.
Come on an active adventure of Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park with us, and learn more at www.GuidesofJacksonHole.com