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Ely Minnesota > Nature Articles > How Do Bears Make Friends?

How Do Bears Make Friends?

A very unique event was witnessed, photographed, and captured on video at the new North American Bear Center here in Ely. The following article, by Dr. Lynn Rogers explains what occurred. The video of this event is being shown at the Bear Center this winter.

How Do Bears Make Friends?

How Lucky the Orphan Cub

learned to trust big Ted at the North American Bear Center

When Lucky was introduced to Ted and Honey on July 15, 2007, he ran in terror and leaped 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.

Operations Director Donna Phelan recorded it all on video.

Over the next 3 weeks Lucky slowly became more comfortable around Ted but usually kept an object between himself and Ted for protection.

On October 27, Lucky initiated play for the first time.  Cautious play.  He came close enough for open mouth sparring but mostly stayed beyond Ted’s reach.

Over the next four days, Lucky showed more and more trust.  On October 31, he engaged Ted in full contact play.  He grabbed Ted’s big head with his paws.  He lay on his back under Ted.  He even let Ted put a paw on his belly.

Everyone enjoyed watching the friendship develop.

On November 7, Lucky approached Honey, but Honey wasn’t ready for energetic little Lucky yet.

Everyone is watching to see what will happen over winter and in 2008.

December 11, 2007

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