Monday, November 28, 2011

A Golden Afternoon at the Columbus Zoo 

 Just a week before their fifth birthday, Aurora and Anana welcomed me for another visit to their beautiful home at the Columbus Zoo, as the zoo made preparations for their first night of Wild Lights, their Christmas lights celebration. It was a crisp autumn day, and the sunlight, low in the sky, gave a magical luminescence to their fur. The bears, seeming to know that a big crowd was coming to see them that evening, spent most of their time lazing in the golden sunlight, resting up.

The fact that polar bears' fur is made up of clear hollow hairs may enhance the glowing effect of the setting sun.

Aurora and her sister share their enclosure with rustic fishing boats.

Too sleepy to try to catch a fish.

 Aurora and Anana were born on November 25, 2006, in the Toledo Zoo. Their parents are Crystal and Marty, and they have a two year old brother, Siku, who just moved to the Louisville Zoo, where Marty's mother Arki now lives. Also at the Louisville Zoo is the little girl cub Qannik, who was rescued from the Alaskan oil fields.

Jack Hanna and friends promoting the zoo's Wild Lights.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Top Honors for Polar Frontier at the Columbus Zoo!

Lucky Aurora and Anana! These twin sisters live in one of the best polar bear zoo habitats in the world. Here they swim in freshwater and salt-water pools, catch live trout, sunbathe on strategically placed rocks, play balance beam on mighty fallen trees, and enjoy their toys.
At the recent conference of the AZA, Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Atlanta Georgia, the Columbus Zoo received top honors for its $20 Million Northern Climate bear habitat, Polar Frontier, which opened in May of 2010. The award was given for the zoos strong message on climate change and an emphasis on animal enrichment.

Polar Frontier represents a deserted mining town in the Far North. The exhibit presents a story tableau about the fragile and changing arctic environment, with wonderful and spacious areas in which sisters Aurora and Anana can play. It also has a place for brown bears and arctic foxes.
Aurora and Anana were born at the Toledo Zoo on November 25, 2006, the daughters of Crystal and Marty. They moved to the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium in December of 2008 while they waited for their new home in Columbus to be built. Their mother gave birth to their little brother Siku in the Toledo Zoo on December 3, 2009. Siku, the only polar bear born in a USA zoo that year, has just moved to the Louisville Zoo.

 The bears love to climb over and under their fallen timber wonderland.

Anana looks for fish to catch above the observation area downstairs.

Wanna play? The upstairs observation deck allows visitors to see the bears up close.


Aurora and Anana's home includes a 1.32-acre yard with two pools, smell ports (Anana really likes these), dig pits and shelters. A 167,000-gallon pool allows visitors to view the bears from above, at eye-level, and below when you go down the stairs. The other pool is a surge pool with a tidal effect, providing enrichment with various depths and moving water.
Anana catches a fish

The enclosure echoes the look of Greenland, with old boat ruins, chunky rock formations, and an old fishing hut. The bears really enjoy the timber playground, where they climb and balance like ballerinas.
Aurora likes to stay on shore a little more, and Anana likes to swim.

Aurora shelters in the Greenland cave during a rainstorm.

Visitors to the Columbus Zoo are lucky too, with the opportunity to watch these polar bear girls as they swim and play in their award-winning home.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Qannik's in the doghouse!

Little Miss Qannik, new arrival at the Louisville Zoo, loves her doghouse. She likes to climb inside, move it around, knock it down the stairs, make it into a roof for her ice pool, and tip it over to make a cozy cradle. Qannik recently arrived in Louisville after being rescued in Alaska, and spending some time in the Alaska Zoo.