Saturday, June 15, 2019

Little Imaq is a Rock and Roll girl

Mother Lynn has much to put up with from her active little daughter Imaq

Just one week ago, I was given a great treat. A friend had arranged for me to visit Lynn and her 6 month old daughter Imaq behind the scenes in Copenhagen Zoo. It was exciting to meet her close up, and give her a little snack of some fennel, her mother's favorite.

I was lucky enough to meet Miss Imaq up close
Later in the week, Imaq and her mom moved to the new big grassy enclosure of the Arctic Ring, the large new area which opened in 2013. However,  I saw them in the old rocky bear habitat, a perfect playground for a fun loving cub like Imaq and a good place to get action photos of this sassy little girl.

Last Monday, Imaq was presented with this new toy.
She had quite a good time with it.
 Here I present the Rock and Roll side of Imaq. She is such a little acrobat, always twisting and turning, wrestling, rocking and rolling about the old enclosure. She was presented with a new tube toy, and made the most of it.

Playing with mom, giving her a big bite.

Imaq's favorite toy is her mom Lynn. Imaq loves to tussle with mom, biting and climbing all over her. Lynn doesn't seem to mind, for it is all a part of cub training.

Imaq gives Mother Lynn a love bite on the nose.
 Imaq was born on December 1, 2018. She was given a name which in Greenlandic means ice on land, a name meant to inspire conversations about climate change.  A twin was born at the same time, but did not live long. 

Imaq on the prowl for trouble

Imaq is quite flexible, always stretching her toes.

Balancing act. Imaq teeters on the edge, just for fun.

Rolling, curling up into a ball

Mother Lynn has to put up with so much with a crazy little daughter like Imaq

Mother Lynn gives back a little playfulness

Imaq loves the big round boulders of the old enclosure,
 perfect for rolling upon

Imaq is ready to jump into the water at any moment

Rocking and Rolling

Rolling and rocking

Rolling the new toy towards the water

Her old little water tube is fun to roll too

Feet in the air. 

Mother Lynn was born in 2011 in Owehands Zoo in the Netherlands, along with her twin brother Luka, who now lives in Wuppertal. Their parents are Huggies and Victor. 

Lynn lived in Vienna for awhile, but came to Copenhagen in 2018, where a big male named Nord was living with another female named Noel. There were just a couple of matings, but that resulted in Imaq.

Father Nord, a Russian bear, is now living in Aalborg Denmark, so there will be a more relaxed atmosphere and more room for the cub in Copenhagen.

Are you watching me roll?

Having fun

Head over heels

Morning exercises. Stretch!

While Lynn and the cub occupy the big green area of the Arctic Ring at the Copenhagen Zoo, the other female, Noel, will be happy to spend time in the old rocky enclosure, which she seems to prefer anyway.

Noel in the old enclosure, in an old photo from 2013.
She is now back among the rocks.

Count my toes!

Coming soon, I will tell about my up close - behind the scenes - visit with Lynn and naughty little Imaq.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Happy World Penguin Day

Northern Rockhopper Penguin at the Edinburgh Zoo
 In honor of World Penguin Penguin Day, here is a little bit about my visit to Edinburgh Zoo, in Scotland, the first zoo in the world to host and breed penguins.

Penguin Rock in Edinburgh. the largest penguin pool in Europe

Some of the zoos first animals were four King Penguins, a Gentoo Penguin and a Macaroni Penguin,  who arrived in 1914, after a 7000 mile journey, the first penguins seen anywhere in the world outside of the South Atlantic, their home.

King Penguins at the Edinburgh Zoo

The Edinburgh Zoo, formerly the Scottish National Zoological Park, welcomed the first King Penguin hatchling in 1919, the first penguin hatched in a zoo anywhere in the world. It was a fairly new zoo at the time, opened to the public in 1913.

A Northern Rockhopper Penguin

The first Macaroni Chick hatched at the Zoo in 1935. Macaroni penguins look a lot like Rockhoppers.

Gentoo Penguins at feeding time

In 1937, the first Gentoo chick made its appearance.

A view of one small part of the Penguin Pool
The Penguin Pool, now known as Penguin Rock, was originally built in 1930, and expanded in 1990.

King Penguins in Edinburgh have a very large area

In 2013 it reopened after further improvements, and the penguins returned from their vacations in England, Ireland and Denmark. It is the largest Penguin pool in Europe, holding 1.2 million liters of water.

Penguins of Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo now hosts three kinds of penguins: King, Northern Rockhopper and Gentoo.
Gentoo Penguins at the Edinburgh Zoo Penguin Parade

Since 1951, the penguins have participated in a daily parade. The legend is that the inaugural parade was an accident, after a keeper left a gate open and the penguins followed, to the delight of the zoo visitors.

Out for a stroll in Scotland
It is completely on a voluntary basis, on the part of the penguins. Whoever of the penguins wants to march that day is welcome to join the fun, accompanied by the keepers, as the parade audience stays behind the perimeter markings. 

The crowds gather for the 2:15 p.m. parade every day

Sometimes there are many penguins out strolling with the keepers, and some days it is only a few.

The Penguin on the right has Leucism. 

A rare genetic mutation at the zoo some years ago resulted in a penguin with a beautiful muted silver tone of feathers. There are several of these leucistic Gentoo Penguins in Edinburgh. 

There are several of the rare Leucistic Penguins in Edinburgh

Leucism occurs in the various species of Penguins in the wild, but they often don't live to adulthood, and are ostracized by the other penguins. In Edinburgh, however, the silver  penguins are treated just the same by the other penguins. In fact the silvery penguin named Snowflake is a particular favorite among the other birds, and seems to always have a companion nearby, the keepers say.

Feeding time for the Gentoos

Down the hatch. A Gentoo Penguin gets some lunch from the keeper.

A Scottish sea gull seems to lecture the penguins

The general consensus is that there are 17 distinct species of Penguins in the world, although several resemble each other, and there are some sub species. The smallest type is the Little (Blue) Penguin, which weighs a barely two pounds, and the largest is the Emperor Penguin, who stands four feet tall.

Humboldt Penguins in Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The Penguin Feedings are a popular event at the zoo.

Some of them, such as the Emperor and King Penguins, live in the icy blasts of Antarctica, but other species make their homes on warmer shores, but all in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Penguins living in the Antarctic are being especially threatened by climate change, as their formerly stable breeding grounds on the ice shelf melt and fall into the sea.

King Penguins out for a stroll at the Cincinnati Zoo. These Penguin Parades take place in January and February on certain days when the temperature remains below 50 degrees F, and are totally voluntary on the part of the Cincinnati Zoo Penguins. 

Little (Blue) Penguins, molting their feathers, at the Cincinnati Zoo

 While Penguins and Polar Bears are often housed near each other in zoos, and are often featured together on flannel pajamas and in TV commercials, they would never meet in the wild. Polar Bears live at the very Northern top of the world, and Penguins all live in the Southern Hemisphere, some very near the South Pole.

Three Magellanic Penguin chicks, not resembling their parents much, at the Point Defiance Zoo in Seattle.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Farewell to Nuuk - Nordman

 We have lost dear Nuuk, who was originally named Nordman when he was born in Sweden.

Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Kolind Denmark posted yesterday that Nuuk had died sometime this winter, possibly related to a flu-like illness. He was 25, a senior bear.

 He will be greatly missed by his dear friend and constant companion Nanok. Except during breeding season, when Nanok was with Nuuk's twin sister Ilka, the two male bears were almost always together.

The park had some wistful parting words on the loss of Nuuk, saying that "Nuuk always had his own opinion about the course of things. The rest of the polar bear residents had great respect for Nuuk, and it was not something he needed to enforce. They moved completely by themselves when he came walking. Nuuk will definitely be missed."

 Long before Nuuk was born, Kolmarden Zoo in Sweden had opened in 1965.  The polar bear habitat opened in 1968, at the time one of the largest in the world with six polar bears. 

Twins Nordman and Ilka were born December 2, 1993 in Kolmarden. Their father was Imarec, and their mother was C.W., an American-born bear.

Nuuk's brother, the late Manasse, who lived in Ranua Finland, was father of Ranzo and Sisu. Nuuk was also brother to the late Yukihime of Yokohama; and Baffin who lives with daughter Momo in Hamamatsu Zoo. Through his father Imarec, Nuuk was half brother to Marissa in Italy, and the famous actress polar bear Agee in Canada.

And of course through his sister Ilka, Nuuk was uncle to Siku, Nuno and Nanu.

Nanok left, Nuuk right
 Nuuk's mother C.W. and her twin brother Elvis were born in the Memphis Zoo  in Tennessee, USA, and were brought to Europe when they were just a year old. Since Elvis had a musical name, my guess is that the initials C.W. might mean Country Western. The late Elvis became the father of the Osnabruck hybrid bears Tips and Taps. Taps still survives and lives in that same German zoo.

In 1998, 5 year old wildborn cub Huggies came from Ouwehands Zoo, Rhenen, the Netherlands, to Kolmarden. Huggies became acquainted with handsome young Nordman, as he was called at the time. The result was a beautiful cub, Freedom, born December 1, 2001,  When baby Freedom was just three months old, Huggies and the cub returned to the brand new polar bear exhibit at Ouwehands.

Nuuk's daughter Freedom and her cubs in Ouwehands

In January of 2006, 12  year old twins Nordman and Ilka moved from Kolmarden, and at the same time, four year old Nanok, born in Belgium, came from Ouwehands to Skandinavisk Dyrepark. The three were the new park's first polar bear residents, finding themselves in a spacious and natural polar bear paradise.

The bridge over the lake at Skandinavisk Dyrepark

Skandinavisk Dyrepark is unlike any other zoo. The visitors can watch the bears romp and play in huge meadows and a magnificent meandering wooden footbridge provides a close but safe vantage point to view the big furry residents as they swim in the lake.

Nanok in water, Nuuk on land

In Denmark, Nordman was renamed Nuuk. It seems that someone decided Nuuk's breeding days were over so he was neutered, maybe so the boy bears would get along better. 

Young Nanok had been brought to the park from Ouwehands as a mate for Ilka, and as a friend for Nuuk. The boys really hit it off and the relationship continued right up until Nuuk's death.

Ilka in water, Nuuk on land
 Nanok and Ilka have had three cubs, Siku, and twins Nuno (girl) and Nanu (boy). Nanu has moved to the Netherlands, but Siku and Nuno are still in the park, along with Mother Ilka, and a Russian bear named Boris, sometimes called Ivan. With the loss of Nuuk, there are five polar bears in the park.

Through his daughter Freedom, Nuuk left quite a legacy as  grandfather to Sprinter (now in Hanover), Sesi (in Mulhouse France), Taiko (in France), Akiak (in Rostock) and Sura (still in Ouwehands), and great grandfather to Miss Nanuk in Mulhouse.


Since Nuuk's mother C.W. was born in Memphis, Nuuk was related to some of our American bears. C.W.'s half sister, born in Memphis, was Chinook, later of Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo.  Chinook was mother of the late Aurora of Rochester, Anana currently of Cincinnati, and Kiska and Koluk of Albuquerque. Nuuk's aunt Chinook is also grandmother to Luna (Buffalo), Anoki (Rochester), Lee (Columbus), Anana (North Carolina) and Hayley (Memphis).

Nuuk's aunt Chinook was also mother of Denali, born in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, who now lives in Japan. Denali is quite the favorite at the Sapporo Zoo and the father of eight cubs.  

It's sad to say goodbye to such a lovely bear. He had a good long life in a beautiful place, and had the companionship of his best friend all those years. He will be missed by so many, especially his pal Nanok. 
Farewell, Nuuk.