Code name No. 56 doesn’t get out much these days. The female black bear is spending the winter within her den in the Chippewa National Forest, and with temperatures far below freezing, that’s not a bad idea.
The 39-year-old bear is resting comfortably in her old age, but that wasn’t always the case. According to the Duluth News Tribune, researchers first found No. 56 in 1981, when she was tagged and studied for a project on bear mortality. Since then the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources tracked and collared over 550 black bears, almost all of which were outlived by No. 56. She is considered an old friend of the department and its senior researchers.
No. 56 didn’t spend her entire life sleeping. The she-bear reared an estimated 28 cubs in her lifetime, with her last litter at the twilight age of 25. Nowadays, the old girl is no longer in the mood for parenting or exhaustive courtships.
Instead No.56 spends her time meandering around the forest and taking long naps in the sun. Not too bad of a retirement. Although she had recently lost some weight and a few teeth, biologists say she’s still in pretty good health.
Perhaps in a few years they’ll get around to finally naming her.
The video below is a recording of the most recent sighting of No. 56: