Saturday, October 16, 2021

Nord is gone too soon


 Nord was almost 16 years old when he died today in Ranua Zoo in Finland. He had been ill for awhile, and was being treated, but we don't know what the problem was. He was euthanized when it became clear he was beyond help. 

He was born November 13, 2005 in Moscow, to Simona and Vrangel.  He was the father of son Nissan, born in 2013 in Izhevsk Russia and now in France: twin sons Beely and Sery, born in Izhevsk and now in Belgium; and four daughters with similar names born in Danish zoos, Imaq born in 2018 in Copenhagen, twins Inuq and Imaq born in 2019 in Aalborg, and Inuviq born in 2019 in Copenhagen.  

He was a nice cooperative bear, and good to his female companions.

I have happy memories of feeding him grapes in Aalborg Zoo.

Nord will be greatly missed.

Sleepy Nord

Nord was a friendly bear

Nord and Malik, getting along well.

That's Nord behind the rock

Malik and Nord in Aalborg

Malik and Nord in Aalborg


Nord in a happy mood 

Our friend Ralph feeding celery to Nord in Aalborg.

I bought some grapes at Lidl for Nord.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Kulu has left Columbus



Young Kulu, at 725 pounds and nearly two years old, is ready to move on. The Columbus Zoo recently announced that the cub will be transferred to another zoo. Which zoo is a mystery, although they did say that it will be in the Midwest. 

A friend who is visiting the Columbus Zoo this weekend reports that Kulu has already left. The zoo posted a farewell video featuring special enrichment for the bears on its facebook page on Wednesday, October 6.

Kulu is on his way

Up until a few days ago, Kulu lived with his mother Aurora and her twin sister Anana. His father Lee is currently in Louisville KY. Moving Kulu now will allow the zoo to bring back Lee or maybe another male before the spring breeding season. Lee is the son of the late Aurora who was born in Salt Lake City and the late Yukon, who was born in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Kulu was born November 28, 2019. He spent the first months in the den with his mother, and by the time he was ready to come out into the public eye, the Pandemic had closed all the zoos. I finally got to see Kulu for the first time in June of 2020.

Kulu at six months

Earlier this year, the zoo introduced Kulu's Aunt Anana into the mix, and the three bears got along very well.

I visited the Columbus bears last week, and found Aurora and Kulu playing wildly in the water with their toys. Anana was napping. It was hard to tell the bears apart, as they are so close in size.  Aurora still has the telltale signs of being a nursing mother on her chest, and a faint brown paint dab on her left paw.

Kulu on the left, Aurora with the fire hose
Playing around

Kulu and Aurora

Aurora seemed to have the toy most of the time,
with Kulu trying to steal it.

Kulu, top, kisses his mom.

Aurora with the cone.

Aurora balances the toy. Kulu watches.

Aurora with the cone.

Is Kulu trying to distract his mom so he can steal her cone?

Aurora with the toy. Kulu wants.

Kulu and his mother would fight over the toys, making a game of it. Aurora really liked playing with the flat fire hose, making it snake around in the water.  She played with the orange traffic cone as well. Now she will only have to share the toys with her sister.

Aurora with assorted toys. You can see the brown mark on her paw

Aurora with the fire hose

I descended the steps to the underwater viewing, and it was quite spectacular, with the mother and son wrestling in front of our eyes.

kulu on the left


Kulu on the left

Aurora soars. You can see the signs of nursing on her chest.

Aurora on the right. See the mark on her paw.

Kulu on the left.

When Kulu and Aurora were tired of playing in the water, they wandered over to where Anana was sleeping, giving her a greeting as each went by. 

Anana was napping, Aurora greeted her sister as she passed by. 

 Kulu on the left, with the driftwood.
 Aurora center, Anana right, sleeping.

Kulu scratches himself on the driftwood.

 Mother and son strolled back to the shore of the big pool, and curled up for a nap, Aurora playing for a bit with a yellow floatie.

Aurora with a twig, Kulu sleeping.



Aurora has a soft pillow.

Kulu yawns

Anana walked past her dozing sister and nephew to the dock area, and just sat quietly there, posing for the visitors.

Anana wakes up, and strolls to the other side of the habitat.

Anana investigates.

Anana posing

I suspect Aurora and Anana will miss Kulu, but it was reported that the twin sisters were having a good time playing together in the water over the weekend. Now they won't have to share their toys with a youngster.

Maybe Kulu's new home will be a zoo not far from me, so I can visit.

While bringing father Lee back from Louisville may have been the plan, I don't know how the uncertainty of the AZA accreditation of the Columbus Zoo will affect that. The zoo has appealed the AZA ruling to rescind their accreditation. While Columbus is a world class zoo with an excellent polar bear habitat, the threatened loss of accreditation comes about because of financial improprieties by executives who are no longer there, and allegations about possible involvement of the former director in questionable dealings with wild animal traders. Since these situations are in the past, have been properly addressed, and seem to have been resolved, the zoo is appealing the AZA action of taking away their accreditation. 

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Adieu to Snow Lilly


Snow Lilly in her element.

Snow Lilly's many friends and fans are in mourning the loss of this very special older bear. She was known for her basketball skills, juggling a bright ball above water, and dribbling a ball on the floor of her pool. She was quite  advanced in years, the oldest polar bear in North America, second in age only to Katjuscha of the Berlin Zoo by just a few weeks, but she had kept up her activities, and seemed to be living her best life, right up to the end.  

Snow Lily goes for the win.

Snow Lilly has finished her last ball game. She died on Friday, September 24. 

Snow Lilly

Snow Lilly was born December 5, 1984 in the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, to Penny and Nicklee. She lived in the New York Bronx Zoo from 1985 to 2005. Her older sister Coldilocks died in 2019 at the age of 37.

Snow Lilly watching the sea lions get their fish. She wanted some too.

Her mate was the late Blizzard, brother of the late Little One of the Cincinnati Zoo. In 1991 Snow Lilly gave birth to a boy cub, Tundra, in the Bronx Zoo. Tundra died in 2017, after living his whole life in the Bronx Zoo.

Lots of ball action when Snow Lilly was around.

Snow Lilly moved from New York to the Milwaukee County Zoo in 2005, where she lived with Zero, who had been born there in 1989, and then with rescued circus bear Wilhelm. I visited in 2013, and first saw Snow Lilly on her own during the morning.  She went in, and Wilhelm appeared for the afternoon shift. Snow Lilly wanted to have her own space, so the bears took turns.

Snow Lilly

Snow Lilly was a bear who knew how to have fun, especially with a ball. Her keepers gave her lavish birthday parties with special treats, her favorite was crab legs, and she delighted in opening her presents. 

Snow Lilly at her 36th birthday party, opening gifts.
 Photo courtesy of Michelle Rippey

Snow Lilly loved her balls.

Snow Lilly had many fans, and will be greatly missed. There are now no polar bears in the Milwaukee County Zoo. The end of an era. 

Snow Lilly surveying her kingdom back in 2013.

Farewell, lovely lady.