Lily, the Minnesota bear that gained worldwide fame after video of her giving birth became an Internet sensation, is a new mom once again.
Web fans around the world are watching fresh video of tiny twins born Saturday in Lily's camera-equipped den near Ely.
It was the 6-year-old black bear's third on-camera delivery in less than three years.
"Lily was restless Friday evening and surprised us by giving birth about a week earlier than she has previously," said Lynn Rogers, senior biologist of the Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center near "We're thrilled to hear the sounds of healthy cubs."
Thousands have kept tabs on Lily since a den cam was installed last month so researchers could monitor her hibernation.
Live Video streaming by Ustream
Rogers said Lily greeted each cub with motherly grunts, just as she did when Hope was born on Jan. 22, 2010, and when Faith and Jason were born on Jan. 21, 2011.
Hope was last seen near a hunter's bear bait station in October 2011 and Rogers thinks she was shot and killed. Jason died when he was almost four months old, apparently from a coyote attack, Rogers said. The cub was bitten in the head and bawled, bringing Lily to the scene. It died about four days later from an infected bite wound, a necropsy showed, Rogers said.
He said Faith left Lily last May and has her own den this winter.
The new cubs, weighing less than a pound, can't be seen in the web video, but their faint cries can be heard and grow stronger during the nearly 12-minute video posted on YouTube at tinyurl.com/d77nxt4.
The cubs seem fine, evidenced by how noisy they are, said Sue Mansfield, Rogers' research partner for the past 10 years or so.
Newborn cubs typically are about 9 inches long and weigh less than a pound, Rogers said. Their eyes usually open in early March. He said a team of more than 130 den-watchers around the world will record standardized data minute-by-minute until the family leaves the den in April.
Rogers, 73, who has studied bears more than 40 years, said this is the fourth year Lily has had a camera in her den. Her Facebook account showed more than 146,000 people "liked" her account on Sunday.
Rogers said Lily did something this year he has never seen before.
Instead of raking leaves for bedding into her den under a brush pile outside Ely, Lily chewed up rotten twigs inside the pile for bedding.
The five to seven months that bears spend in their dens is the least studied part of their lives, Rogers said.
"We're all learning together about the hidden world of black bears," he said.
He said he and Mansfield can locate two dozen bears by their radio collars.
"Our methods give us the best chance to learn the secrets of their hidden world. We don't use traps or tranquilizers. We use trust. The bears come to ignore us so we can walk with them and take video like we're not there."
Jim Adams • 952-746-3283