Bear cub with Internet following dies

April 14, 2011 at 10:13 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, April 14 (UPI) -- A bear cub in Minnesota who became an Internet sensation like his mother died of natural causes after weeks of deteriorating health, wildlife officials say.

Thousands of Facebook fans had tracked Jason's brief life via Web cams and Internet postings by bear researcher Lynn Rogers, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Wednesday. Jason's mother Lily became an Internet star last year when a Web cam captured her giving birth to her first cub, Hope.

In January, with the same camera watching, Lily delivered cubs Jason and Faith. When the bears, including Hope, now a yearling, emerged, their activities continued to be taped and posted online.

It became apparent Jason was struggling, weak and less coordinated when the cubs started walking in mid-March. Jason, sickly and unsteady, continued to decline, Rogers said.

Last week, Rogers said, he found Jason lying near a tree with labored breathing.

"He could hardly lift his head," Rogers said. "He was too far gone to help at that point."

Jason died Tuesday, he said.

Rogers contacted the Department of Natural Resources and then called a local veterinarian to conduct an examination in hopes of discovering why the cub died.

DNR officials confiscated the bear Wednesday for examination and Rogers said he was told they "may or may not give it back."

DNR officials couldn't be reached for comment, the Star Tribune said.

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