Myth: Mother Bears Give Birth in Their Sleep, Wake up in Spring, and Are Surprised They Have Cubs

Untrue.  The mothers’ metabolic rates are slowed by hibernation, but they wake up to birth and care for the cubs like other mothers do.

Lily and Hope in the den

Many “experts” spout this myth as fact without ever having seen a bear give birth. Any mother could tell us it isn’t so, and any of Lily the Bear’s 200,000+ Facebook Fans could tell us it isn’t so after having watched Lily give birth wide awake in January 2010, as well as several other bears in the following years.

Lily as a wild 3-year-old female black bear allowed researchers to place a web cam in her den in 2010. The cyber-world watched as she gave birth and cared for her cub—a technological first.


  1. In the days before the birth, Lily added bedding to her den, chewed the new material into small pieces, and frequently rearranged it.
  2. On January 22, she gave birth to a single female cub at 11:38 AM after 21 hours and 39 minutes of intermittent labor. The cub, named Hope, was likely 9 inches long and probably weighed about 12 ounces.
  3. At Hope’s first cry, Lily made sweet grunts of concern and began licking her.
  4. For over 2 months, viewers watched Lily respond to Hope’s every cry.
  5. After an unusually early snow melt, Lily and Hope left the den on March 29, 2010.

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Early Days
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Life in the den
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Last days in the den
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Myths and Misconceptions (article list)

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