I had heard that Rizzo would be leaving the Cincinnati Zoo in early May, so I planned a visit to say goodbye to this beautiful lady in late April. Plans had changed, however, and when I arrived, there were only two bears in the Lords of the Arctic habitat, Little One and Berit. Rizzo had left for her new home at Rocky Shores in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City in mid-April.
After talking to several members of the zoo staff, I learned that Rizzo had been taken off exhibit several days before her departure so she could fast, which would make the trip easier. She was still accessible to her friends Little One and Berit, who strolled back to see her often during this period, probably wondering why their friend was being kept separate. An elephant keeper told us that Rizzo was flown to Salt Lake City, and the zoo usually uses DHL. He said the Cincinnati Zoo always sends a keeper along when an animal is transferred, and they stay for a short period of time to help the animal adjust. Typically, no sedatives are given for the flight, according to the elephant-keeper.
Hogle Zoo's new Rocky Shores, scheduled to open June 1, is an $18 million complex covering 4 acres. It will have space for polar bears, grizzly bears, seals, sea lions, otters and bald eagles. Rizzo should enjoy living in this state-of-the-art habitat, with large swimming areas and a natural environment. People in that region of the country will again have the chance to meet a real polar bear, face to face, and watch her swim in the underwater viewing area. And hopefully she won't be alone for long.
|Rizzo and Little One, a few months ago
A zoo staffer said that there was a lot of mating going on between Rizzo and Little One before she left, so maybe she will have a cub this fall. Little One has always been amorous toward Rizzo, but he regards Berit as just a pal. With Rizzo out of the picture, and Berit being the only lady bear available, the Cincinnati Zoo hopes that Little One will now see Berit in a more romantic light. However, on the day I visited, Little One pretty much ignored Berit except for a brief tussle over food. Both bears seemed to miss Rizzo. Berit, who always liked to cuddle up with her friend, spent a lot of time swimming her laps, as usual, and then took a nap in the nook always favored by Rizzo.
|Is Berit pining for her friend?
|Rizzo and her little Tyre
14 year old Rizzo came to the Cincinnati Zoo when she was only 10 months old, back in the fall of 1998. She has grown up to be a very gentle and sweet-natured bear.
22 year old Little One came from the Cleveland Zoo five years ago. Rizzo and Little One have been active with each other every spring, but no cubs so far. The Hogle Zoo hopes to eventually find a new mate for Rizzo and hopefully produce cubs.
13 year old Berit has been at the Cincinnati Zoo since 2000, so Rizzo and Berit have been together for 12 years, a long time to form a friendship between these two ladies, who practically grew up together.
Rizzo is beloved by her Cincinnati Zoo human family, many of whom have watched her grow up. She has been popular with the guests and this extraordinarily photogenic lady has always loved to pose for pictures. It is as if she knows just how beautiful she is. Rizzo will make many new friends at the Hogle Zoo.
|Rizzo and Little One
|Berit and Rizzo nap together
|Rizzo daintily chews on a twig
|Berit swims as Rizzo supervises
|Rizzo the Polar Bear Lady
|Rizzo admiring her own lovely reflection
|Rizzo relaxes in her favorite nook
|Rizzo looks for feeding time...
|Rizzo the Supermodel, always posing for the photographer