Yoga the Bear
Travelers from Cody lined up at the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park – one of two park
entrances accessible from town – on the day it opened for the summer season, ready to experience the
world’s first national park in all of its springtime splendor and hoping for a glimpse of the park’s wildlife.
According to an account by Cody Enterprise reporter Lew Freedman, some of those early-season visitors
were in luck. Just a few miles into the park, visitors spotted a grizzly lazily stretching and rolling around
in the grass and stretching one paw and then the other skyward as if exercising. A quick-witted ranger
dubbed the grizzly “Yoga the Bear.”
I guess if you spent several months in a deep slumber, you might want to stretch out those limbs too.
I’ve always thought grizzlies are one of the most compelling of all wildlife species in the park. They can
be ferocious, sure, but they are predators and that’s what they do. The sows are fiercely protective of
family members – at least for a year or two – and they have a playful side that is a joy to watch, from a
safe distance of course.
Before heading to the park in hopes of seeing a bear strike a Downward Facing Dog pose, read up on the
species on the National Park Service website. NPS tells visitors to keep a safe distance of at least 100
yards from all bears, unless viewing from the closed window of a car as a bear passes by. And of course,
never feed a bear. It’s dangerous, and you could endanger the life of a bear by acclimating it to human
food. The website also offers a variety fun facts. Here are a few.
- Although grizzlies can vary in color from fair to very dark, most grizzlies in Yellowstone and the
surrounding region are light brown.
- Grizzlies eat what’s available each season, including plants, mammals, fish, fungi and invertebrates.
In fact, eating is their most important activity, particularly in the fall when they are fattening up on
whitebark pine nuts for winter.
- Bears also spend a lot of time in their winter dens, as much as five months for most bears. Pregnant
females spend an even longer time in their winter homes.
- Most bears leave their dens as soon as temperatures are warm enough for them to forage for early
spring vegetation and winter kill mammals like elk.
- There are about 690 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. They can best be viewed from
the East Entrance and along the road to Yellowstone Lake as well as Hayden and Lamar Valleys.
- Bears stand on their back legs to see farther. Their eyesight is roughly the same as a human.
Springtime is one of the best seasons of the year to see these fascinating creatures as well as many of
the other mammals who roam through Yellowstone Country. I’ll be packing my binoculars and heading
there this weekend in hopes of spotting Yoga the Bear.
Until next time, I’m loving life – and striking a Shavasana pose – here in Cody Yellowstone.