Holly, a brown bear in Katmai National Park and Preserve has opened her paws and taken in a new cub, which was abandoned earlier this summer by his own mother. Adopting another cub is incredibly rare among brown bears, says NPR.
The cub waited in a tree for his mother while she spent a week courting and mating with aggressive males at Katmai’s Brooks Falls. Unfortunately, the mother never returned for her cub, and the yearling was left to fend for himself. Luckily, the cub was able to persevere on his own until help arrived.
To the surprise of Roy Wood, a park ranger at Katmai, Holly adopted the cub even though she already had a nine-month old cub of her own. Within a month, Wood reports that Holly and the cub were seen sharing fish and even nursing. The ranger suspects that Holly will even share her den with the cub this upcoming winter.
While the extra cub has required Holly to catch more fish, produce more milk and even protect against other bears, Wood suspects that adopting the cub may actually be providing Holly with some benefits. Along with providing her den with some extra body heat during the winter, the cub has an extra pair of eyes to watch for approaching danger.
The unusual affair was a pleasure for both park rangers and park visitors to watch. Wood described the event as, “an incredibly special thing that we’ve been able to witness in the wild.”
Want to have close encounters with these brown bears in Katmai National Park? Join us on our trip to see these mighty animals on Alaska’s Coastal Grizzlies: Kodiak to Katmai!