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Time with Lily!! - UPDATE August 11, 2023

Lily and Hope 8/16/2010

For the first time since June 28, 2021, I was with Lily last evening and it was the same as ever. She is a wild animal with a wild life who accepts and ignores me like I am not there—which is what made Lily and her mother June such good study bears. They were never attached to me in a way that would distract them from their wild lives. They both focused on their wild surroundings and let me and others record how they foraged, napped, nursed cubs, and reacted to the sights, sounds, and scents of their surroundings. Any reactions to my presence were mainly when I did something unusual like sneezing or was too far away for easy identification.

Last evening, when the film crew and I saw her coming through the woods, I approached her with my usual sing-song ‘It’s me, bear, you’re okay, it’s me.’ She paid no attention. Those words and tone told her there was nothing to worry about. I sat down. She came to me with her eyes on the food, took a mouthful, and showed no reaction when I stroked her down her back. Her focus was on her surroundings. She moved her ears in all directions, sometimes pausing to listen and look in one direction. She also watched the movements of the film crew as they filmed from different angles. I felt honored that she ignored my movements, letting me know she knew and accepted me as if no time had passed. I wondered what she’d do if I tried to take her heart rate. Film hostess Claudia Gilbert continued the feeding, which Lily accepted, and I began feeling for her heart rate on her rib cage. Lily looked down briefly without concern at what I was doing and turned back to eating. Her heart rate matched her behavior with a calm 72 beats a minute.

Play, closeness, and demonstrations of affection have never been part of what she did with me. Those kinds of relationships were reserved for her own kind. What she showed me was simple acceptance as she went about living her life, tending her cubs (as in the picture of Lily with Hope from August 16, 2010), and doing what bears do.

Lily brought back good memories of learning, particularly with the den cams. I remember the den cams showing her strong reactions to sounds of animals passing by her dens but not even raising her head if I approached saying ‘It’s me, bear’ if she had her head tucked under her chest to breathe on her cubs as they nursed. Sometimes it’s good to be ignored.

With many good memories, thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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