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Denning black bear delivers cubs to worldwide audience

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- At least two black bear cubs were born Sunday  in a den monitored by a "den cam" that can be viewed online around the world.

The North American Bear Center in Ely, Minn.,  has compiled video of the birth (click on video above) -- and the thorough bath the mother gives the first cub, which whimpers very much like a newborn human infant.

See more videos of the family as it evolves here. There may be a third cub.

The center's website has all sorts of details, photos and videos about bears, denning and hibernation.

Do black bears hibernate?

Short answer: yes.

When people defined hibernation simply in terms of temperature reduction, bears were not considered hibernators. However, when biologists discovered the many metabolic changes that let black and grizzly bears hibernate up to 7 ½ months without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating, they realized that body temperature was only a small part of hibernation.

They redefined mammalian hibernation as a specialized, seasonal reduction in metabolism concurrent with scarce food and cold weather (Watts et al. 1981).

Black bears are now considered highly efficient hibernators.

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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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