Friday, June 9, 2017

Lars enjoying the Danish lifestyle


Lars

A lovely family of polar bears lives in Aalborg Zoo in Denmark. Lars, who came to fame as the father of the famous Knut in the Berlin Zoo, is also the father of Anori of Wuppertal and Fiete, now in Hungary. Now he is the father of two adorable cubs, said to be girls, born in Aalborg in November, although I suspect the bigger one is a boy. 

Eine wunderbare Eisbärenfamilie wohnt im Aalborg Zoo in Dänemark. Lars, der  allen bekannt wurde, da er Vater des berühmten Knut im Zoologischen Garten Berlin war, und ebenso von Anori in Wuppertal und Fiete aus Rostock, welcher nun in Ungarn wohnt. Nun wurde er wieder Vater von zwei wunderbaren Jungtieren, man ist sich fast sicher  es sind Mädchen, sie kamen im Aalborg Zoo im November zur Welt, obgleich ich vermute dass das größere Jungtier ein Junge ist.


Malik and her two cubs, fathered by Lars

While the cubs are busy playing and splashing about with the mother Malik, Lars is content as he watches from the other enclosure. At 23 years of age, Lars is a senior citizen. He spends much of his time relaxing, sleeping, and watching the people who come to visit him.

Während die Jungbären eifrig spielen und mit ihrer Mutter Malik herumplaschen ist Lars zufrieden und beobachtet alles von der anderen Anlagenseite. Mit nun 23 Jahren ist er ein älterer Herr. Meistens beschäftig, sich auszuruhen, zu schlafen und auch die Menschen beobachten, die ihn besuchen kommen.
Lars loves crewing on sticks and branches
Lars was born December 12, 1993 in Munich, and moved to Bremerhaven when he was two years old. He has moved around a bit, living in Munster and Neumunster. He moved in 1999 to Berlin Zoo, where he lived for ten years with a harem of ladies: Nancy, Katjuscha and Tosca, and where he fathered Knut with Tosca in 2006. When mother Tosca rejected Knut, he was raised by hand by his keepers, and became world famous.

Lars wurde am 12. Dezember 1993 in München geboren und kam dann im Alter von zwei Jahren nach Bremerhaven. Er hat schon einige Umzüge hinter sich, war in Münster und Neumünster. 1999 dann kam er nach Berlin in den Zoologischen Garten. Dort lebte er zehn Jahre in einem Harem: Nancy, Katjuscha und Tosca, und gemeinsam mit Tosca zeugte er dann 2006 Knut. Nachdem Tosca Knut dann nicht versorgen konnte übernahmen die Tierpfleger die Handaufzucht des Jungtieres und Knut erreichte Weltruhm.


Tosca, Katjuscha and Nancy, Lars' three ladies in the Berlin Zoo's rocky enclosure where Lars lived for ten years.
Tosca and Nancy are gone now, and there is only Katjuscha left.

Lars with just a little stick
In 2009 Lars moved to Wuppertal, where he seemed to not be very happy, although he liked the female bear there, Jerka.  In June of 2010, both Jerka and Lars were struck down by a mysterious illness that damaged their kidneys and cause serious brain swelling. 20 year old Jerka did not survive, and Lars was deathly ill for months with this mysterious illness, which finally two years later was found to be a form of zebra virus causing encephalitis.

2009 wurde Lars dann nach Wuppertal verlegt, wo er allerdings nicht sehr glücklich war, obgleich er mit der weiblichen Eisbärin Jerka gut zurecht kam. Im Juni 2010 wurden Lars und Jerka von einer mystriösen Krankheit befallen, die ihre Nieren beschädigte und ernsthafte Hirnschwellungen zur Folge hatten. Die 20 Jahre Jerka hat es nicht überlebt, und Lars war für Monate von dieser mysteriösen Krankheit befallen, und erst nach zwei Jahren wurde der Befund entdeckt in Form eines Zebra Virus, der Enzephalitis verursachte.

Lars having lunch, in Wuppertal, 2011

Although Lars survived, it took a long time for him to recover, and I have to wonder if he may have suffered some permanent brain damage from the swelling of the brain, for he does seem to be a very calm, non-reactive bear in his old age. 

Und obwohl Lars es dann überstand dauerte es für ihn sehr lange sich wieder zu erholen, und ich muss mich fragen ob er vielleicht doch permanente Hirnschäden auf Grund der Schwellungen bekommenhat, da er nun sher ruhig, und in seinem hohen Alter auch kaum reagiert.


Lars has his choice of toys in Aalborg, but would rather not play

Lars in Aalborg

Vilma paces, while Lars rests, in Wuppertal, 2011

In the fall of 2010, Vilma moved to Wuppertal to be a companion to Lars. The next year, Vilma gave birth to cub Anori, and to make room for the curious cub, Lars moved to Rostock, where he lived with Vienna, Vilma's mother.

Im Herbst 2010 kam dann Vilma nach Wuppertal um die Gefährtin von Lars zu werden. Im Jahr darauf wurde dann Anori geboren, und um mehr Platz für das Jungtier zu schaffen zog Lars nach Rostock um, wo er nun mit Vienna lebte, der Mutter von Vilma. 

Lars in Rostock, with Vilma's mother Vienna in 2013

Handsome Lars in Rostock, 2013

Rostock had a regular feeding time,
 and Lars was spry enough to stand and beg in those younger days.

 Lars stayed in Rostock for three years, and Vilma joined him there after a bit. The romance rekindled, and soon Vilma gave birth to Fiete in December of 2014.

Lars verbrachte drei Jahre in Rostock, auch Vilma kam dann später wieder dort hin. Die Beziehung wurde wieder belebt, und im Dezember 2014 brachte Vilma dann Fiete zur Welt.


Lars in Aalborg. He usually has the choice to be inside or outside.

Taking a stroll

Once again, Lars moved to make room for the cub, this time going to Aalborg Denmark, where there was a lady bear named Malik waiting for him. Lars and Malik got along very well. Frank, the head polar bear keeper at Aalborg, said that Lars was the perfect gentleman with Malik. And when the bears were together, Malik got most of the food, and the keepers had to make sure there was extra so Lars would get some. If they gave the bears frozen rabbits, they had to provide four, so that Malik would get three, and Lars one. To make sure Lars got his share of food, they would sometimes separate them at feeding time.

Und wieder einmal mehr musste Lars Platz für das Jungtier schaffen, diesmal ging es nach Dänemark in den Zoo von Aalborg. Dort wartete die Eisbärin Malik auf ihn. Lars und Malik kamen sehr gut miteinander aus. Cheftierpfleger Frank aus dem Aalborg Zoo sagte, dass Lars der perfekte Gentleman für Malik sei. Als die Bären gemeinsam fraßen musste immer darauf geachtet werden, dass auch Lars etwas abbekam, er bekam immer etwas ganz extra nur für ihn. Wenn es gefrorene Kaninchen gab wurden immer vier angeboten, so gab es drei für Malik und eines für Lars. Um sicher zu gehen, dass Lars sein Anteil am Fressen bekam wurden die Bären auch häufig zum Fressen getrennt.


Lars with one of his sticks

Autumn 2016 at Aalborg Zoo was a time of joy mixed with tragedy. As Malik was denned up, awaiting the birth of cubs, Vilma arrived on October 21 to be reunited with Lars. The polar bear plant at Rostock was to be rebuilt, so Vilma, her mother Vienna, and son Fiete were all sent to other zoos. Vilma and Lars were happy to see each other, and all was going well, when Vilma was suddenly struck with a mysterious illness on November 3, and died a few hours later. It was an infection of the bowel, and moved with lightening speed to strike her down. The keepers were devastated at the loss of the lovely Vilma.

Der Herbst 2016 im Aalborg Zoo war von Freude erfüllt und mit Trauer gemischt. Während Malik sich in die Mutterhöhle zurückzog und dort die Türen geschlossen wurden kam Vilma am 21. Oktober in den Aalborg um mit Lars wieder vereint zu werden. Im Zoo in Rostock wurde die Eisbärenanlage neu gebaut, somit mussten Vilma, ihre Mutter Vienna und Sohn Fiete in andere Zoos verlegt werden. Lars und Vilma waren erfreut sich wieder zu begegnen, alles war gut, als dann plötzlich am 3. November Vilma an einer mysteriösen Krankheit befallen wurde und einige Stunden später verstarb. Es war eine Infektion im Darm, das mit rasender Geschwindigkeit ihren Tod verursachte. Die Tierpfleger waren entsetzt die wunderschöne Vilma zu verlieren.


Vilma, who died just after her move to Aalborg

Just three weeks later, on November 26 of 2016, Malik gave birth to three cubs, of which two survived. Through the magic of the dencam, the world could witness the births and see how the cubs were being raised by Malik. The little family can now be watched on the zoo's webcams, and you can see Lars too. 

Nur drei Wochen später, am 26 .November 2016 gebar Malik Drillinge, wovon zwei dann überlebten. Wegen des Zaubers der Webcam konnte die weite Welt die Geburt verfolgen und die Jungtiere beobachten, wie Malik sich liebevoll um ihren Nachwuchs kümmerte. Die kleine Familie kann nun durch die Zoo Webcams verfolgt werden, und man sieht auch Lars.

Lars calmly observes Malik on the other side of the barrier

 With the death of Vilma, Lars was on his own, but he seems to be perfectly happy with his own company. While he may have played with the odd toy in Rostock, he now mostly ignores the crazy eggs and balls and tyres that are given to him. his favorite spots are the rock in front of the window in the small enclosure, where Victoria also liked to sit to greet her public, and the lip of the rock over the big pool, where Lars likes to sit and dangle his paws over the edge.

Nach dem Tod von Vilma war Lars nun wieder für sich allein, aber er scheint glücklich und allein zu sein. Während er im Zoo in Rostock oft mit dem seltsamen Spielzeug zu sehen war, ignoriert er meist die Crazy Eggs und Bälle und Autoreifen welche man ihm anbietet. Seine Lieblingsplätze sind die Steine vor der Fensterscheibe in der kleinen Anlage, wo auch schon Victoria gerne saß und ihre Besucher begrüßte, und der Felsenüberhang an der großen Poolanlage, wo Lars gerne sitzt und die Vorderpfoten baumeln läßt.


Lars likes to sit at the ledge and just watch things

"Lars is not a toy boy," says keeper Frank. He feels that Lars is different from other polar bears, not driven by curiosity, but just content to observe his visitors and his little family across the way. Frank knows Lars pretty well, and says he is a special bear, very gentle, easy-going, but not playful, not curious the way most bears are. At age 23, he is a senior bear, and feeling some of the pains of old age. It comes and goes. The keepers have tried several things to help ease the arthritis, and are now giving him the supplements that are given to older dogs to help with joint inflammation. 

Lars spielt nicht so gern sagt Pfleger Frank. Er hat das Empfinden, daß Lars anders ist als andere Eisbären, nicht so von Neugierde getrieben, aber doch zufrieden seine Besucher zu betrachten und seine kleine Familie auf der Anlage zu sehen. Frank kennt Lars recht gut und sagt, dass er ein besonderer Eisbär ist, sehr freundlich, einfach zu behandeln, aber eben nicht spielerisch oder neugierig wie andere Eisbären es sind. Im Alter von nun 23 Jahren ist er ein getagter Bär, und fühlt einige der Schmerzen alter Knochen. Es kommt und geht wieder. Die Tierpfleger bemühen sich sehr um die Arthritis zu behandeln und verabreichen ihm nun Ergänzungen, die auch alten Hunden verabreicht werden um die Knochenentzündungen zu mildern.


Lars underwater at one of the tunnel windows

Lars rarely goes for a swim,  and usually for just a few minutes at a time. The saltwater pool is crystal clear and clean in Aalborg.

Lars does swim, but only occasionally and only for a few minutes at a time. Then he gets out, shakes off, and relaxes upon his favorite stones.

Lars geht auch schwimmen, aber nur gelegentlich, und meist nur wenige Minuten. Dann steigt er wieder heraus, schüttelt das Fell aus ruht sich auf seinen beliebten Steinen aus.


Lars
To keep the bears interested, the keepers rotate the bears  between the two enclosures, and Lars enjoys sniffing around to find out where his children have been playing. It is a fine form of enrichment to trade the bears' enclosures, for polar bears in the wild are built for change, and it is very good for them to be challenged by a varied environment. 

Um die Eisbären zu beschäftigen sind die Tierpfleger darauf bedacht die Anlagen ständig zu wechseln, und Lars findet es spannend zu erschnüffeln wo seine Kinder gespielt haben. Es ist eine gute Art und Weise die Anlagen zu tauschen, und somit sind die Eisbären stets herausgefordert alles zu erkunden.


Lars loves eating leaves from branches. It is one of his favorite things to do

Hooray, a branch with lots of leaves!

Delicious.

Here is a video of Lars eating his leaves, contentedly.
Lars Video - click on this link.
His keepers try to pique his interest with different foods. During my visit, he was given a horse head to gnaw upon, and he did carry it about but was not terribly interested. 

Seine Pfleger bemühen sich auch immer wieder seinen Appetit anzuregen mit unterschiedlichen Mahlzeiten. Während meines Besuchs bekam er einen Pferdeschädel um darauf herum zu kauen, er tat es, war aber nicht so sehr interessiert. 


Lars smells grapes

Here is Frank with a favorite treat. Lars loves sweet things. In Aalborg, feeding times are more random, as it would be in nature, to help keep things interesting and prevent stereotypical behavior.
He was much more inclined to eat the melon given to him. He loves prunes and grapes and all sorts of fruits, but his keepers make sure he gets a variety of meats as well.

Er machte sich viel lieber über die Wassermelone her, die man ihm verabreichte.Er mag Pflaumen und Weintrauben, und alles andere Obst; aber die Pfleger auchten auch, dass er genug Fleisch zu fressen bekommt. 
An old horse head for Lars

Lars is somewhat interested

But not that interested

Maybe just a small piece.

 For a treat, while I was there, Lars and the cubs were given frozen seal blubber, and he seemed to like that pretty well. Malik was given live trout, but the keepers knew Lars would not be interested in catching fish, and would be happy to just be presented with the fish ready to eat.

Als ein Leckerbissen wurde während meines Besuchs gefrorenes Robbenfett gegeben, und das schien ihm sehr gut zu schmecken. Malik bekam lebende Forellen, jedoch wissen die Pfleger dass Lars nicht Fische fangen mag und es vorzieht,sie fertig zum Fressen serviert zu bekommen und viel lieber mag.

  
Some jiggly, sort of frozen seal blubber, a rare treat for a polar bear

Fine polar bear cuisine

Lars looks fantastic, not too thin and not too fat, but just right and in very good shape. His fur is almost always clean and smooth. Lars seems content at Aalborg. The food is good and varied. The pools are filled with salt water, cleaned by state of the art filters, something he has not known in other zoos except for Bremerhaven. 

Lars zieht wunderbar aus, nicht zu dünn und nicht zu dick, genau richtig und in guter Verfassung. Sein Fell ist meistens sehr sauber und weich. Lars scheint sich in Aalborg sehr wohl zu fühlen. Das Fressen ist gut  und abwechslungsreich. Die Schwimmbereiche sind mit Salzwasser gefüllt, werden ständig  mit eine Filteranlage gereinigt, etwas, das Lars außer in Bremerhaven in anderen Zoos so noch nicht kannte. 


A new blue crazy egg catches Lars' attention, but just for a second.

His keepers give him lots of attention and treats. There are plenty of toys, if he would ever want to play with them (but he seems not to want to.) He is beloved by visitors and staff, and has the best of care. And there are plenty of comfortable spots for a polar bear to enjoy an afternoon nap, which is what Lars likes best.

Seine Tierpfleger schenken ihm sehr viel Aufmerksamkeit und Leckerbissen. Auch gibt es sehr viel zum Spielen, was aber nicht so für ihn gedacht ist. Lars wird von Besuchern und Zoomitarbeitern sehr geschätzt, und hat die allerbeste Pflege. Und es gibt für einen Eisbären so viele wunderbare Plätze um ein Nachmittagsschläfchen zu machen-und das ist was Lars am liebsten macht.


Back to napping


Many thanks to Marga Andresen Gransow for the German translation.

16 comments:

  1. Dear Molly,

    with great pleasure I have read your detail report from handsome Lars at Aalborg Zoo.
    It is not easy for him to be neighbour from wonderful Malik and the sweet cubs, but the Keepers make everything for him so he feels comfortable.

    Thank you so much Molly for Polar bear senior Lars.

    Bear hugs
    ManuELA

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  2. Many thanks, Manuela. He is such a special bear, with a unique history. I enjoyed telling his story. He is so photogenic too, and likes to pose for my photos.

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  3. Dear Molly,
    you wrote a good story about the life of Lars. We visited Lars in Berlin, in Wuppertal and in Rostock. Lars was happy with Jerka. I have very good pictures of him and Jerka at playing. Jerka passed away, Lars was rescued. It was a good job of the vet and the keepers from the zoo Wuppertal. The enclosure in the zoo Wuppertal is not big, but the keepers do their best for the bears.

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    1. I think Lars missed his three ladies when he moved to Wuppertal, but he did like Jerka very much. It is so sad that we lost her. I have seen how much fun Anori and Luka have at Wuppertal. The keepers give them so much to do, and they are quite happy, even though the enclosure is old, but the newer part has really helped, for they run back and forth from the back to the big pool area all day. Lars' daughter Anori gets the best toys ever too.

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    1. I know there have been misguided people out there worrying about Lars, spreading lies and rumors, and I cannot imagine why. The keepers take very good care of Lars. And yes, there are sandy pits to roll in and the kids do, but Lars does not want to. He has balls given to him, but does not want to play, except with his twigs. The stones at Aalborg are soft rounded pretty river stones, and the bears seem to like them very much. He looks very fine and healthy for a 23 year old polar bear.

      Yes, he seemed to recover from his near fatal illness, but often, in people as in animals, there may be effects later on. Maybe this is the case with Lars, or maybe it is just that he was always a calm, quiet bear and he is more so in his later years.

      In any case, he is content at Aalborg. He is different from most other polar bears. Lars is given many choices and things to do, and his keepers are always trying to find something that will get him excited, but mostly Lars would rather just sit and watch, or maybe take a nice nap.

      I will suggest to the Aalborg keepers that Lars may like a mulch pile, such as they recently installed at Tierpark Berlin. They are pro-active in trying to make him comfortable and happy, and are willing to try new things.

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    2. Dear Molly,

      there are some people on Facebook, who write a bit offensive about the keepers in the zoo Aalborg. But I would not say that they are completely wrong.

      It is possible to watch the polarbears in the zoo Aalborg per webcam daily. It is a fact, that the zoo Aalborg does not have enough space for a male bear. The small enclosure with its small pool is a place for a mother with a young child, who has to learn to swim. This enclosure is too small for Malik with her 2 kids now. I am afraid the people, who are worried about Lars, know more about his life than you. You write about sandy pits in the enclosure. It would be nice to see pictures of them.

      Your statement about Lars' illness is strange. If Lars is ill now, then it is important to find out what is wrong with him and not to simply write that it is an old illness, that came back. There is no proof of this statement.

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  5. Dear Molly
    thank you so much for your detailed and informative report on Lars in Aalborg. The pictures of gentleman Lars are just beautiful and Lars looks great and he looks good. It's so good to hear, that Lars is loved by the visitors and hist keepers and that they do everything they can, to make him feel comfortable.
    Thank you again for posting this wonderful
    pics of handsome and good looking Lars. And I do hope he can cope with his arthritis.
    Greetings from Erlangen
    Heidi

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    1. Dear Heidi,
      Thank you for your kind words. Yes, Lars is in good hands. His arthritis comes and goes, but most days it is good, and the supplements should help greatly.

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  6. Dear Molly
    Thank you so much to clearify reality upon those unreal and imaginative 'alternative facts' on the web - this is indeed facts like from mr. Morton and many more who faces reality. IRL!
    So hopefully there will be reasonable and decent peace about Lars and Aalborg Zoo, so he can enjoy his senior life despite his arthritis and the necessary medication. THANKS!
    Greetings from Denmark

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  7. Molly
    Sorry not to have commented before, but I have been ill for a few days and do not have a laptop at home only a Cellphone to surf.
    The German fans of Lars mean well but their tone always seems too harsh to me.

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  9. Hallo Molly, vielen Dank für Deinen wunderbaren Bericht.
    Liebe Grüße Jens

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  10. I have removed several disruptive comments from a person who probably means well. My blog is a place for my observations, some family history of the bears, happy (and sad) news, special events and interesting stories about the individual bears. I write what I observe about the bears from actually being there, what I learn from the keepers, what I have learned from visiting many zoos, meeting many bears, and seeing many polar bear enclosures. And of course lovely photos of our bears.

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  11. Danke für diesen wunderbaren Bericht!
    Many thanks for this wonderful report.
    The cups names are NUKA (what means big brother) and QALIK (what means sky) and so you are right, I think. Boy and girl, we will see it later, when they are bigger.
    Once again thank you.
    Greetings Brigitte

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  12. Molly
    I notice that Ludmila has repeated the two common assertions from German Polar Bear fans.
    Apart from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the UK I do not know of any Zoo who could offer Lars a bigger pair of enclosures or better medical care. In fact the German zoos already do not have room for the bears they have, given the number of cubs around.
    In Lars's case I do not think YWP would serve him any better than Aalborg.

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