Thousands Tune in for LIVE Black Bear Birth

By KBJR News 1

January 20, 2012 Updated Jan 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM CDT

Ely, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) -Lily the black bear was made famous back in 2010 when she gave birth to Hope.

She later gave birth again to two cubs, Jason and Faith.

Now, keeping in it the family, someone close to Lily will be making her web debut any day now.

For the thousands of viewers on line, not every moment is wrought with suspense.

But researchers say that wasn't the case on Saturday.

"We were like 'whoa...that looks a lot like Lily', the way she is tensing up and shivering, we were looking for the contracting muscles in her head like clenching teeth but we didn't see exactly that but we saw tenseness," said Dr. Lynn Rogers.

Researchers thought it would be a similar 22 hours of labor for Jewel, the sister of Lily the black bear, but that turned out not to be the case.

"We thought, could we be wrong? Or is there variability in bears like there is in people? We are all learning together," said Rogers.

And those wanting to learn are tuning in, in record numbers.

"The fans are really excited. We've had like 6,000 people watching at one time and we also have about 600 new folks that have signed up on facebook," said researcher Sue Mansfield.

Many of those fans still reeling from the loss of both Hope and Jason, two of Lily's cubs.

Jason died from natural causes shortly after birth.

The beloved Hope was shot and killed this past hunting season.

Hope was not one of the collared research bears and Dr. Rogers says he isn't sure if the new cub - or cubs - will be collared either.

"We have to change the collar, you know adjust the collar as they grow and if they don't tolerate touching then we just don't bother with them then," said Rogers.

As researchers...and fans continue to watch Jewel become a mother the question still remains - when will she give birth?

"I really thought she was going to produce this weekend and she didn't. She is still showing good signs that she is pregnant but I've given up making predictions," said Mansfield.

Dr. Rogers says they are expecting two cubs from Jewel but that can't be determined until the birth actually happens.

To follow Jewel's progress you can check out http://www.bear.org/

Written for the web by Elayne Crecelius
ecrecelius@northlandsnewscenter.com