Lucky was an orphan cub and was introduced to Ted and Honey on July 15th 2007. His reaction was to run in terror and leap up a tree. He weighed only 10 pounds, and any mistake with big bears he didn’t know could end his life. For the rest of the summer, Honey reinforced Lucky’s fear. She chased him up a tree whenever she saw him. But big Ted was just his friendly old self. He wanted to meet Lucky, and he seemed frustrated when Lucky kept running away.
Finally, on October 3, Lucky approached Ted. Ted laid his head on a log and extended his tongue, a friendly gesture. Lucky was cautious. He ran to a rock where he could feel more secure. Ted followed and continued his overtures. Lucky reciprocated. They touched tongues. A friendship began.
Why did the beautiful, cinnamon-haired Honey, 16, decide to hibernate with 5-year-old Lucky? Both are resident black bears in the big, forested enclosure at the North American Bear Center near Ely, Minnesota.
After a summer of tension between the two, Honey joined Lucky in his den on November 26 ???? (not sure which year). It’s not the first time Honey has surprised us. Three years ago, after a summer of distrust, Honey invited Lucky into a different den with sweet, high-pitched grunts. Lucky snuggled right in.
Today was the first showing of Planet Earth Live. We watched the show live with members of the crew. The BBC crew pulled this complex operation off masterfully. Julia Bradbury was excellent. Her emotions were genuine. The music fit the scenes wonderfully. The bears stole the show in our opinion and from the reactions on Planet Earth Live twitter hashtag #planetearthlive and on the BBC Facebook page.
On March 8, Lucky made friendly overtures to Honey, grunting sweetly as he confidently extended his nose to her. She did not reciprocate. She laid back her ears and blew and clacked—repeatedly. Then things got loud as Honey rebuffed Lucky’s advance.
How do we explain Lucky’s friendly vocalizations and body language after the tension we’ve seen all winter.
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Honey and Lucky provided a workshop on bear vocalizations and body language at 7 AM this morning. Honey was facing right and apparently wanted to turn left but was nervous about turning with Lucky right there. As Lucky lay quietly and was not looking at Honey. Nervous Honey repeatedly blew and clacked her teeth. Lucky responded with moans and whines. Gradually, Honey shifted her position to face left, blowing and clacking all the way. Lucky whined and avoided looking at her. When Honey completed her turn, she added huffing to her repertoire, showing that she was getting over her fear. Lucky then dared to become more active, scratching and stretching as he faced away from Honey, avoiding eye contact. Eventually, both settled down.
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The mission of the non-profit North American Bear Center (NABC) is to advance the long-term survival of bears worldwide by replacing misconceptions with scientific facts about bears, their role in ecosystems, and their relations with humans.
There is a huge need for accurate information about bears worldwide.
Bears have been unfairly demonized for centuries. Exaggerated perceptions of danger historically led to eradication campaigns using bounties, poison, trapping, and shooting. All eight bear species around the world are now listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered in all, or portions, of their ranges. Remote habitats that once insured isolation and protection are now being occupied by people, and the attitudes of these people will determine the future of those populations.
The Bear Center is dedicated to replacing misconceptions with facts worldwide. It is also working to conserve bear habitat, stop poaching for bear body parts, rehabilitate injured and orphaned bears back to the wild, and implement methods to reduce conflict between humans and bears.
www.bearstudy.org and www.bear.org