She Might Be the Most Famous Bear in the World

Yellowstone's Grizzly 399 has 4 cubs at the astonishing age of 24
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2020 12:59 PM CDT
A Yellowstone Superstar Emerges Once Again
In this 2011 photo, grizzly bear No. 399 crosses a road in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., with her three cubs. The bear, at age 24, is still alive and rearing cubs.   (AP photo/Tom Mangelsen, File)

"Miraculously, she still lives!" So wrote nature photographer Thomas Mangelsen to none other than Jane Goodall last month when he spotted what is possibly the most famous wild bear in the world, reports the Guardian. This particular bear is a grizzly with the unromantic name of "399," and she lives in Yellowstone National Park. What sets 399 apart is that she is 24 years old, at the upper limit of the grizzly lifespan, and yet she remains more fertile than ever, per the Billings Gazette. Grizzly females typically have two cubs at a time, but 399 emerged in May from her cave with four, which has left wildlife experts in awe, according to Buckrail.

"Four-cub litters are rare," Frank van Manen, a senior research biologist with the Yellowstone region’s Grizzly Bear Study Team, tells the Guardian. "We have documented females producing cubs well into their early- to mid- 20s, but a litter of four at that age is definitely unique." Over the years, 399 has given birth to about 20 cubs, and each May, her legions of fans set up camp hoping to catch a glimpse of her re-emergence. She has become the symbol of the resurgence of grizzlies in Yellowstone, whose numbers have risen from less than 150 in the 1970s to more than 700 today. "Long live the queen," declares the post at Buckrail. (Just don't get too close to the bears—or to the park's bison.)

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