World’s Most Famous Bear – Grizzly 399 – Spotted in Grand Teton National Park
Written by Andrew-Rossi on May 17, 2023
Grizzlies emerging from hibernation is always an enjoyable time of year for wildlife enthusiasts. But in 2023, enthusiasts across the globe were waiting for the emergence of one bear in particular. And yesterday, their patience was rewarded in spectacular fashion.
Social media is filled with posts of delight and awe as several people confirmed Grizzly 399 has emerged from hibernation. The world’s most famous bear was spotted around 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16. Crowds gathered, and social media blew up shortly after.
The wait for her emergence was a point of concern for many. But the overwhelming sentiment was that, with enough time, Grizzly 399 would be roaming her territory in Grand Teton National Park once again.
As an equally delightful bonus, Grizzly 399 emerged with one cub – her first offspring since 2020. Better yet, both bears appear to be healthy.
Grizzly 399 achieved international notoriety in Summer 2020 as she successfully raised four cubs to maturity. However, her celebrity came with her visibility – thousands of visitors could see and photograph the bruin brood as Grizzly 399 proudly paraded her cubs through some of the park’s most popular areas.
According to the National Wildlife Federation, grizzlies can live up to 30 years in the wild. However, the average life expectancy is around 25 years.
A grizzly of 399’s – 27 years old – successfully rearing another cub is a remarkable accomplishment. In fact, Grizzly 399 breaks the record – the previous record for the oldest known wild grizzly mother was 25 years old.
With only one cub in tow, Grizzly 399 will likely have an easier summer than in years past. She is historically known for having triplets rather than twins, which is typical for most female grizzlies.
While wildlife advocates are rejoicing at the emergence of Grizzly 399, it’s also a small point of concern for some. Her natural propensity to frequent popular areas puts her at risk of a human-grizzly encounter, something the 400-pound bear has successfully avoided so far.
But grizzlies being euthanized for habituated behavior – or posing a threat to people – is not uncommon. One cub of Grizzly 399’s famous brood of four – Grizzly 1057 – was “removed from the population” last year after showing increasingly dangerous behavior in human-occupied areas.
Her high visibility is the greatest shield protecting Grizzly 399 and her cub (that and the Endangered Species Act.) Nobody wants to be the one who puts down such a famous animal. But with recent efforts to remove protection for grizzlies under the E.S.A. and the killing of a grizzly near Cody that made nationwide news earlier this month, Grizzly 399 and her cub are never too far from a fatal mistake.
Grizzly 399’s return could be seen as one of the most powerful statements in favor of the ongoing protection of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and many will use her popularity as a rallying call. But for now, Grand Teton National Park, visitors, and photographers of all levels can revel in the return of the region’s biggest celebrity.