Lily The Black Bear’s Unprecedented Show - Den Cam Reveals Intimate Bear Family Life

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A world-famous black bear is capturing the world's attention as she raises her cubs in a remote wilderness den. Heartfelt moments are live via the North American Bear Center research webcam.

“Who knew a family of black bears would touch so many? We’re seeing unbelievable views on Lily’s Den Cam. We’re all learning together.” - Lynn Rogers

It’s a reality show at its best: 9-week-old Eli and Ellie playing, learning to walk and receiving tender loving care from their mother Lily who is on the constant look out for danger.

Lily’s Den Cam is now streaming high definition video to eager viewers around the globe.

“I wish we had black bears in Scotland,” writes one viewer on Lily the Black Bear’s Facebook page. “Cuteness overload!” says a Massachusetts fan. “Myths and misconceptions surround the American black bear and thanks to these den cams some of them have been clearly refuted with facts,” comments a viewer from Spain.

The fans are among the thousands watching two webcams placed in wild bear dens in northern Minnesota by the Wildlife Research Institute. The WRI is the scientific partner of the North American Bear Center located in Ely, Minnesota.

In live 24/7 video, researchers and viewers are learning about the hidden half of black bear life in more detail than ever due to new technology. One webcam is in six-year-old Lily’s den with her cubs Eli and Ellie born on January 12th, 2013. The other is in four-year-old Jewel’s den with yearlings Fern and Herbie.

“It’s a special opportunity that is going by quickly,” says Dr. Lynn Rogers, WRI/NABC founder and chairman. “The families will be leaving their dens in the next few weeks. Every day brings a change in Lily’s cubs with their behavior and family relations. The cubs cannot be cuter than right now with their eyes opened and struggling to gain the coordination that will let them follow mom out of the den and climb trees for safety.”

Previous knowledge about bear behavior in dens only came from direct human observation, but technology has changed scientific research with no one looking except a camera eye. An eye that has thousands of followers.

“People used to believe that cubs were born while mothers are sleeping,” Rogers says. “What the webcam is revealing is how constantly and gently the mother cares for them, bathes them with her tongue, and responds to every cry. As people learn directly from the bears, the bears themselves replace misconceptions with reality and turn belief after belief on its head. It’s hard to turn away.”    

Drama inside Lily’s den is played out daily. Recently viewers saw Lily reacting to “perceived danger outside the den with ferocious looking displays, followed by loving reassurance to her cubs as she nursed them in front of the camera,” Rogers says. “We see the cubs bawl for access to nipples and compete with each other. Then they nurse with a pulsing hum that tells mom that all is well and not to move.”

The research study area is just outside the small town of Ely. Because of the bears, people from around the world have become enamored with the remote Northwoods town, raising over $250,000 for its parks, schools, food shelf, and more. In an online vote, Lily fans named her cubs Eli and Ellie.

“Who knew a family of black bears would touch so many?” Rogers asks. “We’re seeing unbelievable views on Lily’s Den Cam. We’re all learning together.”

The world’s longest and most comprehensive study of black bears is being monitored by a worldwide team of 130 ‘Den Watchers’ who are recording standardized scientific data minute-by-minute -- and by hundreds of classrooms. Broadcasting from the remote bear dens isn’t easy. Solar-powered batteries transmit video by cell phone signal to South Africa. There, WildEarth.TV streams video to the Internet.    

Links to the wild bear Den Cams:
Lily’s Den Cam:    
Jewel’s Den Cam:

YouTube links:
March 23, 2013 - Lily & cubs at play/nursing:
New videos daily - YouTube Bearstudy Channel:

The WRI/NABC is respected worldwide for its research using ‘trust instead of traps and tranquilizers.’ Learning directly from the bears themselves creates a better understanding of the species as more people move into bear habitat. Old myths are being replaced with facts. Publications and documentaries are reporting the research -- including BBC’s ‘Planet Earth Live.’ On social media, Lily the Black Bear’s Facebook page has nearly 147,000 fans.

For more information:
WRI/NABC Media Relations Director Bev Hauptli: MediaRelations(at)bear(dot)org
North American Bear Center:
Wildlife Research Institute:

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Bev Hauptli
North American Bear Center - Media Relations
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