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The Queen & Cubs

Photo by Shaun Downey Photography, LLC

See the best thing to happen in 2020, #399 & her quad cubs!

She is the living symbol of wilderness, a bear to which most others are compared. She is grizzly #399. This year (2020) she is 24 years old and a first time quad mom. It’s only a 2% chance a grizzly has 4 cubs, and for me to finally get a shot like this after almost 10 years of following her, I’m mesmerized!

The cubs were born in early spring and by now they are playful, energetic and curious about just everything. On this particular day #399 was spotted by the road side in Grand Teton National Park, (her home) and crowds gathered as she rummaged through the sage flats searching for food. She stayed a safe distance away from the onlookers for quite some time before making her way into the dark timber. Oftentimes when she does this she’s gone for days, however not today.

Instead of going deep into the timber, she paralleled the highway and took the path of least resistance. My guess was as good as any but I figured that she was taking the cubs to one of her usual stomping grounds in search of the elk calves. So I decided I would try and meet her half way at a tiny little meadow I had seen her at before. There is a beautiful gravel path that I only hoped she would take on the left edge of the meadow. There she was only a few minutes later. After stepping out of the timbered forest she started walking down the gravel path in my direction.

Only a few moments later I was blessed with this photograph. #399 looks so proud, as if she’s smiling. You can see the personalities of the cubs come through as each one had a slightly different reaction to the situation upon seeing humans again. Two of the cubs stand on their hind feet to survey the for themselves and the other two peeked around mom knowing she will handle whatever arises.  The moment of awe fled just as quickly as it came and she headed back into the thick timber again not to be seen for another day.

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