For many people, a two-and-a-half-minute video of a baby brown bear trying to scale a snow-covered mountain was a life-affirming testament to the power of persistence. As it begins, the cub is standing with its mother on the side of a perilously steep ridge. The mother begins walking across, and despite slipping a few times on the loose snow, she soon reaches the top. Her cub, following tentatively after her, isn’t so fortunate. It loses its footing and slides several feet. It pulls itself together and reattempts the ascent, before slipping again.
Finally, the cub nears the top. But as the footage zooms in to focus on the moment of reunion, the mother inexplicably swipes at the youngster with her paw, sending it hurtling downward again. It slides a long way, scrabbling for purchase and finding some just before it hits a patch of bare rock. Once again, it starts to climb, and after what seems like a nail-biting eternity for anyone watching, it reaches its mother. The two walk away.
The video was uploaded to the ViralHog YouTube channel on Friday, and after being shared on Twitter, it rapidly went viral. At the time of this writing, it has been watched 17 million times. The cub’s exploits were equal parts GIF, nature documentary, and motivational poster. It had all the elements of an incredible story: the most adorable of protagonists, rising and falling action (literally), and a happy ending. It was a tale of tenacity in the face of adversity, triumph against the odds.