Saturday, July 21, 2018

Corinna and Anton together again

 Today I received word from a friend that beautiful Corinna, with her lovely fluffy big ears, has left us. She was 28 years old.
Corinna was born in Copenhagen in 1989, and spent most of her life in the elegant Wilhelma Zoological Park in Stuttgart, Germany with her adored Anton.

Corinna's half brother, with the same father, was the famous Wilhelm, or Willie, born in 1985, who had been sold by the Copenhagen Zoo at the age of 4 months to private owners and spent 16 years sweltering and being forced to perform in a poor Mexican circus. He was rescued in 20o2 along with six other polar bears when the circus overwintered in Puerto Rico, which is a territory of the U.S. Thankfully, Willie lived in comfort the rest of his life, in the North Carolina Zoo, and then the Milwaukee County Zoo, where he died in 2013. 

 Corinna was spared that fate, and was sent to Germany. Anton and Corinna arrived at the Wilhelma together, at the age of one, and grew up as playmates. As they matured, the zoo expected that they would have cubs. They waited and waited. No cubs.

Anton and Corinna
But then Corinna surprised the polar bear world when she gave birth to Wilbär in the fall of 2007 at the ripe old age of 18. The zoo kept his birth a secret, for fear of too much press attention as happened to Knut in Berlin, and was happening at the same time in Nuremburg with Flocke's birth.  Mother Corinna took good care of her only child, but there was an early separation in the spring of 2009, when Corinna and young Wilbär  engaged in some aggressive behavior, sometimes resulting in blood. Maybe it was because Corinna was anxious to get back to her Anton, for they truly were a love match.

Corinna and her beloved Anton

Every afternoon, for most of their lives together, Anton and Corinna would settle in for the famous ear licking ritual, something quite uncommon for polar bears. I have only seen one other pair engage in ear licking, best friends Nancy and Tosca in Berlin Zoo.
Corinna licking Anton's ear
Anton would climb onto the central rock perch in the left hand side, and lay there while Corinna spent long periods of time licking his right ear, while Anton closed his eyes with enjoyment.

Corinna shows her love

The pair seemed to never tire of this rite of affection.

How Anton loved it

They were separated for a period of several years when Corinna had her cub. During this time, Anton really missed Corinna. He pined away for her. The zoo painted the separating glass with whitewash so he couldn't see her, but still he pined, for he could hear her, and smell her.

Love in the afternoon
When young Wilbär left the Wilhelma, he moved to the polar bear Paradise of Orsa Bear Park in Sweden, where he was soon joined by a young girl bear named Ewa, but no cubs have resulted. This past fall, another young girl cub named Hope, the daughter of Flocke and Raspi, has arrived in Orsa so Wilbär now has two girlfriends. 

Swimming with Anton
With Wilbär gone north, Anton and Corinna were reunited, and lived together for many happy years and countless afternoons of ear licking.

Anton and Corinna

Corinna and Anton

Then there was a terrible tragedy in early 2014, when some thoughtless  visitor threw a backpack into the enclosure, Anton ate the contents, and it ended up killing him.

Pretty Corinna
Corinna lived alone in the ensuing years, with several suitors coming to call, but no one could replace Anton, her true love.

From 2014, Yoghi naps while Corinna swims, avoiding him
Yoghi came to the Wilhelma in 2014 when Giovanna, who had given birth to twins the previous fall, needed privacy and space to raise her family, so Yoghi stayed for seven months in Stuttgart, but then returned to his family in nearby Munich. Corinna tolerated Yoghi, but was happy when he left.

From 2015, Corinna on the left, Felix on the right
In 2015, Felix came to visit for 8 months, after Vera had baby Charlotte in Nuremburg. Again, Corinna tolerated him, but was happy when he moved on and she could be alone.

Corinna on the balancing rock

After that, the zoo decided Corinna should have her privacy so she has lived alone for the past three years, happily enjoying her solitude.

Corinna and a play stick

I like to think of the beautiful Corinna being reunited with her Anton again, for they were so happy together.

Corinna follows Anton

More ear licking
The cause of death has not been announced.

Corinna on the balancing rock
Farewell, beautiful Corinna


  1. Molly You have really done a beautiful job of recording Corinna's history. I agree with you, I like to think that she and Anton are on the eternal ice fields, with Corinna licking her favourite ear.

  2. Dear Molly,

    Thank you so much for this wonderful tribute to two Lovely polar bears! Corinna and Anton were a sweet couple and I hope they are now reunited.

    Hugs from Mervi