The Mother of all Momma Bears: Grizzly 399 emerges from Wyoming den with four cubs in tow

Being a mother is hard.

But imagine being a mother to four grizzly bear cubs in the wilds of Wyoming where visitors are watching your every move.

Last month, a 26-year-old female grizzly bear known as 399 and four cubs emerged from their den in Jackson Hole.

Tom Mangelsen and Tiffany Talbott reported the sighting late in the afternoon of April 16.

“They soon drew an enthusiastic crowd as they made their way through northern Grand Teton Park. All appeared healthy and energetic,” they explained.

Talbott snapped an image of the family, likely on the hunt for food post-hibernation, which was posted to Mountain Journal.

Then, more people posted dazzling footage of the family freshly out of the den, including a social media user who goes by the handle Midlife Rices.

The images of such an unusually large family are stunning.

The cubs were born in 2020 and will soon go their separate ways.

But for now, 399 remains an incredible momma bear.

Late last summer, Tom Mangelsen took a beautiful photo of the family swimming the Snake River, in an area the Mountain Journal called “one of the most highly trafficked parts of Jackson Hole outside of Grand Teton National Park.”

Some have called bear 399 “the queen of the Tetons,” including photographer Jeff Bernhard.

But because she’s gaining such a following, everyone wants to keep her — and her cubs — safe.

Being a mom is hard. Being this good a bear mom to this big a brood is nothing short of inspiring.

Photographer Demetrius Rhynes perhaps summed it up best on this Mother’s Day.

“Not only has she been an incredibly successful bear over the last 26 years, she has also been an incredibly successful mother throughout her life in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” Rhynes wrote in an ode to 399 posted on Facebook.

“She has been an integral part of the recovery of the grizzly population within the ecosystem and has left behind a legacy with fantastic genetics to continue in recovering the species. Over the last two years this incredible mother has defied the odds and reared 4 cubs to adulthood. At last reporting, they are still together and well. Only time will yell when this mother will make the decision to send her cubs off on their own and put the skills that she has taught them to use. May they all be as successful in life as their mother has been. Happy mothers day 399 and happy mothers day to all the amazing mothers out there, human and animal alike!”

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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