Determining the cub’s sex

Determining the cub’s sex

Update February 21, 2010 - 5:20 PM CST

What sex is the cub?  After carefully examining the Feb 3 video of the nearly 2-week-old cub, we were nearly certain it was female.  There was a prominent bump between the legs.  The vulva is prominent from early on, but the testes of males don’t descend for 4-6 months.  We didn’t see anything on the belly.  Then the quick belly shot with the “speed bump” captured at 2:25 AM CST on Feb 20 made us wonder.   Was it a penis, the umbilicus, or a piece of debris?

Gender DeterminationWe know many of you have seen a lot of puppies, which are quite similar to cubs.  A call went out for sharp eyes to look for clues and identify good video clips.  We didn’t have to wait long.  At 11:59 PM CST, the cub appeared.  Linda Gibson captured the footage and sent it to us.  We compared it with footage Lynn Rogers and Doug Hajicek captured with a ‘Cub Cam’ on February 22, 2000 at Blackheart’s den.  Blackheart had 2 female cubs, Dot and Donna.  After comparing the 2 videos, we feel more certain than ever that Lily’s cub is a female!

Lily’s cub is growing fast.  Her voice is strong – like we usually hear in dens in late March and early April.  We suspect the cub is using all 6 nipples because sometimes she’s back by the inguinal nipples and sometimes up by the 4 on Lily’s chest.  If she’s developing extra fast, will she finish the bonding period early, too?  Once cubs have totally bonded with their mother they become ‘stranger shy’ just like human infants.  That switch usually occurs around the time they leave the den in mid-April.

Last night, around 7:45 PM CST, loyal Lily-watchers demonstrated how well they know Lily by picking up on her unusual alertness.  For over a half hour her face was visible and her ears showed her attention was toward something outside the den.  It was dark out, so we suspect it was a deer or wolf or coyote passing by or bedding down nearby.  She’s pretty safe from people, but when we picked up on her alertness we delayed heading home until we could see her relax.  The few people who know Lily’s location are trusted research supporters with tight lips.  If it doesn’t snow before we install the new microphone we‘ll check for tracks in the area to see if we can determine what might have had her on the alert.

The new microphone will ship on Monday and arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.   We’ll post a notice on Facebook and Twitter before we head over to plug it into the computer (several miles away).  After we plug it in, we’ll wait a few minutes to see if the hum has stopped.   If it has, we’ll pull the microphone and cable up through the woods to the den.  This is the last ditch effort to get rid of the dreadful hum.  We want to hear breathing.  We want to hear what Lily hears and see how she responds.  When a wolf or deer walks by, we want to hear footsteps.  We want to hear every squeak from the cub in good enough quality to tape-record it.  Better and better views are coming up.  We’ll need good sound to better interpret what we’re seeing.

We don’t need to tell you that tomorrow is the cub’s one month birthday, right?   We hope you’re finding accommodations okay for the big Lilypad Picnic July 30 to Aug 1.  If you need help, the Ely Chamber of Commerce is great (www.ely.org and 218-365-6123).  We are looking forward to meeting you and are planning good events at the Bear Center with that in mind!

Thank you again for your continued support.

—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, North American Bear Center

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