Hope, the world’s most famous black bear, is dead.

Gordon Buchanan, one of Britain’s top wildlife cameramen, hit our screens with the heart-warming The Bear Family and Me last Christmas, which documented his visit to the Wildlife Research Institute’s bear study programme in Ely, Minnesota. Run by the endearing Dr Lynn Rogers, the institute radio collars a number of bears and gains their trust, passively following them through the woodland to learn more about their behaviour and interactions with human settlements. Each bear has its own name and special relationship with the scientists, and Lily is one of their favourite black bears. When she fell pregnant two years ago, the birth of her cub was broadcast live across the web and a star was born. The cameras kept rolling for little baby Hope, aiming to document her entire life right from birth up to adulthood and beyond. It was Lily and little baby Hope that Gordon Buchanan first encountered in the woods in The Bear Family and Me, and from whom he ran away in fright. However, over the course of the three episodes of the series, we had the pleasure of watching Gordon Buchanan’s attitude towards the bears change from an objective and distanced viewer to a willing participant in their family unit. This was all helped of course, by the sweet and gentle nature of baby Hope, who wouldn’t stop playing with the cameramen.

But there was trouble in paradise when baby Hope became separated from her mother for several days. Since the little cub was not radio collared yet, they had no idea what had happened to the baby or where she could be:

The next stumbling block was a moral one: now they knew where to find Hope, and they could radio track her mother, should they step in and reunite the pair? The decision was made to go against the strict scientific rule of “no intervention” with the natural world, and a dramatic scene unfolded involving a cat-carrier and a high-speed drive across the woods. Mother and daughter were reunited just in time for hibernation, and they have remained together ever since:

Yesterday the news broke that Hope, now a year old and still accompanying her mother, is dead. She was killed by a recreational hunter.

How the world will remember Hope, the gentle and playful black bear.

Advertisements