This mama bear was a true legend of the fall.
A brown bruin miraculously survived after dramatically toppling off a cliff while defending her cub from a nearly 500-pound male in Castile and Leon, Spain. Footage of the un-bear-ably tense moment is blowing up on Twitter.
The nail-biting clip, uploaded Tuesday by Spanish wildlife officials, starts with the mama bear standing protectively in front of her cub as a male bounds down a mountain toward them. All of a sudden, the big daddy bruin attacks, whereupon the two begin tussling on a ledge as the baby backs slowly away.
At one point during the high-altitude bout, the mama bear can be seen dangling over the side of the cliff like Mufasa from “The Lion King.”
Things literally go south after both bears tumble off the cliff in tandem and plummet nearly a hundred feet down the mountainside, dramatically bouncing off several rocks on the way.
The female eventually rolls to a stop before slowly clambering to her feet. Meanwhile, her male assailant can be seen standing sluggishly at the mountain’s base, seemingly dazed by the fall.
Thankfully, the heroic mama survived the plunge, while her opponent — whom wildlife officials estimated to weigh around 478 pounds — perished shortly thereafter, according to Spanish publication Comunicacion. The bear’s death was confirmed by rangers, who discovered his body during a search of the area several days later, as seen in photos shared on Twitter.
Authorities subsequently found the mother sheltering in a cave and left food and water for her and her cub, Storyful reported.
It’s unclear why the male bear attacked the mother and child. However, brown bears are known to kill cubs of rival males in order to trigger oestrus – a period of fertility – in females, potentially convincing them to mate with the new suitor, Storyful reported.
A 2005 study, which was published in the journal “Bioone,” found that “sexually selected infanticide (SSI) has been documented in some species with a mating system in which males have almost exclusive breeding rights with one or more females.
“When the dominant male is removed, the new male kills the offspring sired by the previous male to enable the mother to be bred earlier,” it read.