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Famous grizzly bear now an empty nester after 4 cubs leave home

26-year-old Grizzly Bear 399 is a true matriarch, with at least 22 descendants.

JACKSON, Wyoming — One of the oldest grizzly bears living outside of a zoo is now an empty nester after successfully weaning her four offspring.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced that grizzly bear 399 has successfully weaned her four cubs in Teton County, Wyoming, near Grand Teton National Park.

NPS said this is normal for grizzly bears with two-year-old cubs. The young bears will eventually disperse to establish individual home ranges.

The popular momma bear, known as 399, was born in 1996 and has captured the hearts of Grand Teton National Park visitors year after year. Photographers first spotted her four cubs when she emerged from hibernation in 2020.

The 26-year-old grizzly bear 399 is a true matriarch, with at least 22 descendants, including the four now-independent cubs. 

Biologists said grizzly 399 is the equivalent of a grandmother and it's possible she could become a great-grandmother while still having more cubs of her own. The oldest grizzly in the region known to have cubs was 27 years old.

Credit: NPS Photo/A. Falgoust
Grizzly bear 399

The National Park Service said during the last two years, 399 and her cubs spent a significant amount of time near residential areas in search of food. NPS reminds residents and visitors to properly store all attractants to ensure a bear does not obtain a food reward is crucial to keeping bears wild and humans safe.

Grizzly bear 399 and her offspring foraged naturally on private property for nearly two weeks with no conflicts recorded, said NPS.

After the grizzly population plummeted to fewer than 150 in the region, the bears made a comeback thanks to crackdowns on poaching, hunting and habitat protection. Today, at least 700 grizzlies inhabit the region.

Famous for the towering peaks of the Teton Range, Grand Teton National Park is a 310,000-acre park located in northwestern Wyoming. The rugged park is located 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park.

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Credit: Tom Mangelsen
In this June 2011, file photo, grizzly bear No. 399 crosses a road in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., with her three cubs.

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