Thursday, March 29, 2018

Bam Bam and Berlin together

Bam Bam by her waterfall
Exciting news for two of our older lady bears. 

Berlin in the Kansas City Zoo

30 year old Bam Bam, who is officially named Fanny, will be moving from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, the home she has known all her life, to the Kansas City Zoo, where she will eventually meet another older lady, Berlin, age 28. It will be a short journey as the two zoos are only a few hours apart.

Bam Bam with celery and sweet potato

Although they have never met, these ladies are related. Bam Bam's late brother Shep is the grandfather of Berlin, who was born in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1989.

 I visited both Berlin and Bam Bam on back to back days in August. Both bears were active and playful, and received great attention from their keepers.

Bam Bam with a melon. She loves melons,  just like Berlin.
Bam Bam's  twin sister, Patches, who lived with her for many years, moved to another zoo in 2007 and died in 2014. Bam Bam hasn't minded her single status it at all and has been very happy to be queen of her castle. Her keepers in Omaha have made sure she has plenty to do, and she enjoys swimming in her big pool too. One of her favorite activities is diving for her food, especially for her favorite celery, and her second favorite food, melons.

Bam Bam and her project. There is some dog kibble in there somewhere.

Sometimes there is honey or peanut butter smeared on the logs for Bam Bam.

Bam Bam is moving things around

View from overhead of Bam Bam and her wooden castle

Bam Bam, always bright and curious, is also a builder, likes moving sticks and logs around, rearranging the furniture. Her keepers put interesting scents and snacks in with the logs. They say she is a problem solver.

Branches make an interesting afternoon diversion for Bam Bam
Bam Bam got her name from her keepers when, as a cub, she kept banging on the door. 

Berlin in the grass

 Berlin got her name from the Berlin wall, which was in the news at the time of her birth. She grew up with her twin brother, Yukon. Berlin has had the company of other bears off and on. She and her mate Bubba lived together in the Duluth Minnesota zoo for many years, but she never did have cubs, and then she was a widow.

Berlin with  Buzz at the Como Zoo. Neil and Buzz are her younger uncles
After the Duluth zoo flooded and she escaped briefly, she went to live with her uncles Neil and Buzz in the Como Zoo in St. Paul, and they got along very well. Then she was moved to the Kansas City Zoo to be with young Nikita, but that did not suit her at all. The keepers finally gave up and kept them separate, since the two bears just could not get along.

Berlin has been known to plant and harvest melons in her enclosure.

Berlin is very playful since her "boyfriend" Nikita left
 Nikita moved away, going to the North Carolina Zoo a few years ago, and since then Berlin has been happily alone, enjoying her solitude, not having to share toys or food, and tending to her melon garden. Although she was subdued when around the rambunctious young Nikita, since he left she has blossomed into a fun loving lady. 

Berlin has found a fish

Berlin has lot of grassy areas in the Kansas City Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo is very roomy, and has grassy meadows
 and sand pits in which to roll around. 

Bam Bam in her home in Omaha. You could observe her from above, or take a long path down to see her face to face through the glass. She has had a nice home there, but no grass.

Celery for Bam Bam 

Bam Bam is popular with visitors at the Henry Doorly Zoo

Bam Bam has found a melon

Bam Bam playing with her food
Bam Bam will move in April, and the bears will be kept separate while the newcomer adjusts to her new surroundings and keepers. The bears will be gradually introduced this summer.


It will be interesting to see how these to older lady bears react to each other. The Kansas City enclosure is very large, so there will be room for them to avoid each other. But maybe they will strike up a friendship. That would be nice. They do have a lot in common. 
Berlin with an underwater pear

With the exit of Bam Bam, the long rich polar bear history of the Henry Doorly Zoo, with Olaf and Olga and their many children, will come to an end, at least temporarily. With only 44 polar bears in U.S. zoos, any facility is lucky to have one. And now Kansas City will have two.
Kansas City, here I come, says Bam Bam

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A final visit with Aurora of Seneca Park

Aurora during playtime and feeding time in the summer of 2013
She was always a little shy, preferring to stay out of sight unless it was feeding time, but Aurora was beloved by so many zoo visitors anyway. The zoo's facebook page today is awash with condolences and memories of this lovely lady bear. Many have known her and visited her all their lives. 

Aurora in November 2017
 After the death of Zero in the fall of 2016, Aurora was out and about a little more, and sometimes even playful in the water.

Still, she was a quiet bear.

Aurora in front, Zero in back.
 Aurora and her twin brother Bubba were born November 5, 1989 in Salt Lake City. A few years later,  Bubba became companion to Berlin, and Aurora moved to Rochester to become mate to Berlin's twin Yukon. These other twins were born in the Cincinnati Zoo about a month after Aurora and Bubba were born. Of the four, only Berlin is left.

  Aurora and Yukon became parents of Anoki, born in 1996 and now in the Baltimore Zoo. 

In 1999,  twins Lee and Anana (although they had different names when they were small, Lee was Qilak and Anana was Sila) came along. Lee now lives in Denver and Anana lives in North Carolina. 

Haley, born in 2002, is now living in Memphis.

Aurora lived at Rocky Shores, which is a wonderful polar bear habitat.
 Now it is empty.
 Yukon died in 2008. Zero arrived in 2010 to keep Aurora company; however, no more cubs were born. Zero was an audience favorite, always playing and splashing and clowning around, not afraid of taking his naps outside where everyone could watch him.

In 2013, feeding time
 Aurora made some medical history a few years ago when she became the first polar bear to undergo artificial insemination by specialists from CREW from the Cincinnati Zoo. Aurora was a good candidate, haven given birth to cubs before. The experiment  did not take, however much was learned from the attempt.

Aurora licking something yummy
  After Zero died, Aurora was out and about more, having the enclosure all to herself. I visited her four months ago during feeding time. She had some small fish, which she was taking her time to enjoy, just nibbling here and there. After she had had enough, she disappeared back inside.

Aurora in 2013, having some fish

Aurora in 2013
 At age 28, she had been doing well until recently, when her health rapidly declined, and the vets made the difficult decision to end her suffering.
Aurora in November 2017. A nice smile

Aurora in November 2017

Feeding time, November, 2017. My last visit to Aurora.

Farewell, pretty lady