“Miraculously, she still lives!” was the message sent by Thomas Mangelsen to Dr. Jane Goodall a few weeks ago.

Mangelsen is a wildlife photographer who lives near Yellowstone National Park.

The “she” he was referring to is a famous grizzly bear known as “399” — one of the most famous bears in the world according to The Guardian

At 24 years old, 399 is one of the oldest Grizzly bears living in the wild. 

This year she emerged from hibernation with a big surprise; cubs. 

Born in 1996, 399 is a perfect example of the importance of female bears to the overall population. She is responsible for at least 22 bears who are thriving in the wild; both her cubs and her uh…grand cubs? 

The brown bear matriarch is also a symbol of recovery in the Yellowstone ecosystem. 

Grizzlies became protected in the Yellowstone region under the Endangered Species Act in 1975 after their numbers dropped to less than 150

But, thanks to habitat protection laws, poaching crackdowns, and hunting bans, there are well over 700 grizzlies roaming the region today.

Their recovery is considered one of the greatest conservation victories in US history. 

Mangelsen has been documenting 399’s life for over 15 years. Here’s to many more!

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