Ted, Lucky, and a Screaming Child - UPDATE September 28, 2018

We have repeatedly seen mother bears respond with care to crying children and other sounds that sound like cubs.  Ted TedThey move toward the sound, grunting like they would to a cub. Another example is Blackheart standing up with her paws on a picture window one night as a crying baby was having her diaper changed by a state senator here at the WRI. When the baby stopped crying, Blackheart led her own cubs off into the darkness.

But then we saw Ted make his friendly high-pitched grunts to little cub Lucky and want to be friends with him. Lucky was reluctant to trust a bear maybe 20 times bigger than himself. Finally, he did. He and Ted touched tongues in early fall and began their years of reckless play.

Recently, a 2-year-old child began screaming during a behind-the-scenes tour and Sharon saw Ted sit up and come out of his chalet and “shoot out of his den and run to the fence line.” He was frantically making his friendly sounds and trying to get out his closed gate to follow as the parent took the crying child back to the Bear Center building. Lucky and Holly were out in the big enclosure. Both came to the fence to see. Lucky watched the Bear Center door, hearing the child screaming inside.

I wish I could read their minds. This reaction is so contrary to what we hear about males wanting to kill cubs to bring their mothers into estrus, something that would be hard to do because they would have to kill the entire litter to do that. Just one more part to the puzzle.

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center