Mother bears accepting outside cubs into their family units is almost unheard of, so Fitz was justifiably dubious about what the images suggested.
"I was unwilling to conclude from these photos that an adoption had occurred. After all, Holly could've been merely tolerating the yearling's close proximity and adoption in brown bears is very rare," he wrote.
As the weeks passed without another sighting of the yearling or the family he'd been seen with earlier, Fitz's curiosity about their possible arrangement grew.
In the first week of September, the yearling was seen yet again with Holly and her biological cub, and their manner seemed to show without a doubt that the mother bear had come to consider the orphan one of her own. Holly has been seen sharing food with the youngster, sleeping by his side and nuzzling him just as his real mother might have.
One of those tender moments was even captured on film: