Young brown bear in Katmai National Park needed a family, so an ‘aunt’ adopted her

A young Alaska brown bear in need of a family was adopted by her “aunt,” and now the little family is inseparable.

They spend their time fishing, traveling and sleeping together along the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve, National Park Service officials said in a Facebook post this week.

Officials posted a photo of the adoptive siblings snuggling by the river after a swim.

“Adoption in bears is rare, but this season, we have the privilege of seeing this phenomenon among our Brooks River bears,” officials said. “... It seems like the new siblings are getting along just fine.”

The cubs’ mothers — Bear 910 and Bear 909 — are sisters who had their cubs during different years, but then decided to raise them together in 2022. They returned as a family this spring, until Bear 909 separated from her 2.5-year-old cub, officials said.

But the young bear wasn’t ready to be on her own. She stayed with her aunt and her yearling cousin, who eventually adopted her into their family.

[From 2022: A Fat Bear Week champion is crowned as Katmai’s bears bask in global spotlight]


Someone commented on the post saying they had read that the bear nursed from her aunt, which officials confirmed.

“She has been! It’s official!” officials said.

Those who’ve kept up with the bears, some via the popular Katmai bear webcam, nicknamed them Bean or Little Bean and Twiggy.

“It has been such a joy watching these cousins turn into siblings,” one fan said.

Someone else pointed out they’ll have each other if Bear 910 separates from them next year.

“Nature is beautiful and sometimes cruel but always pure,” someone commented.