Friday, January 26, 2018

Hope's new adventure

Hope in front, and her mother Flocke, behind
For a polar bear cub born on the French Riviera, a move to snowy Sweden has to be quite a change, but Hope is up for a new adventure. Hope is now three years old, and it is time to move on. She has just moved to Orsa Bear Park, which is said to be a paradise for polar bears, and is reported to be happily rolling in the snow on her first day out yesterday. Hope was accompanied by a familiar keeper who will help her adjust to her new environment.

Hope at 5 months old
Hope was born November 25, 2014, when Flocke was almost 7 years old.  Because Flocke had been hand raised by her keepers in Nuremburg Tiergarten in Germany, some worried that she might not know how to be a good polar bear mother, but her instincts have been perfect as she guided her daughter to independence. 

Flocke and Hope swimming

Hope, the three year old daughter of Flocke and Rasputin, had stayed with her mother past her third birthday. Usually, mother bears become impatient with their young ones at the age of 2 or 2 1/2 and sometimes even younger, but Flocke has been very patient with Hope, treasuring the time with her. 

Hope nuzzles her mother
But it is time for Flocke to be reunited with her beloved Raspi, and time for grown up Hope to be on her own, as in nature.

Hope and Flocke in the mother-cub area playing follow the leader
Rasputin is the same age as Flocke, and was born in Moscow, but came to Nuremburg when he was 11 months old as a companion to Flocke. They have been together ever since, moving to a brand new state of the art polar bear environment in Marineland in Antibes, France, in 2010.

Raspi, Raspoutine, Rasputin

Flocke and Hope shared living space for three years, rotating between the upper and lower enclosure at Marineland, while father Rasputin lived in his own in a separate but nearby enclosure. 

Hope swimming and playing as her fans watch

Hope on the left, Raspi on the right.
There are communication holes in the walls between the pools.

Raspi could see, hear and smell his daughter through holes between the upper enclosures, and they always were very interested in each other. When Hope was in the lower enclosure, he could hike down into a trench to see her through the separating grid upon occasion.

Raspi on the other side of the grid visits with his daughter Hope
Marineland has three polar bear living areas, two with large pools, and one designed for a mother and cubs with a small pool. There are also two ice grottoes with ice machines manufacturing cold white stuff to keep the bears cool.

Hope rolling in the snow in the ice cave

Since Marineland has three enclosures, there was always the option of putting Hope into her own space if Flocke indicated she was tired of mothering. Instead, the separation will be much further, as Hope has moved this week to Orsa Bear Park in Sweden, where she will have acres of snow, lots of trees and ponds, and the Northern Lights, in a very natural setting for polar bears, even though polar bears are not native to Sweden.

Hope has always enjoyed lots of toys.
She probably won't have them in the natural bear park.
 Instead, she will have lots of space and natural activities.

Hope and a favorite blue ball at Marineland

Another ball for Hope

 Hope will spend her days sliding down snowing hills and rolling in snowbanks. In the summer, she can roam the woodlands, swim in the pond and roll in the dirt. Since Orsa is a natural park, she probably won't have the toys and balls that she enjoyed so much as she was growing up. Instead she will have many natural activities for a grown up polar bear. 

I have not been to Orsa, but the photos and maps are impressive, and those who have seen it say that it is the perfect place for a polar bear. Orsa Grönnklitt is large and natural and the animals live in forested areas with varied terrain. It is Europe's largest predator park. 

There she will join two older bears: 10 year old Wilbär, who was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and 12 year old Ewa, one of Huggies' triplets from the Netherlands.

Hope and her crazy egg
Hope and her water toys

Hope and her mother Flocke
 Best of luck, little Hope, in your new home with your new friends. You are indeed a lucky bear to be living in such a wonderful park. And your parents will be happy to be back together again.