Thursday, June 20, 2019

Little Hertha trains to be a Fußball star

Hertha BSC, a longtime Berlin sports institution,
 has made this little polar bear cub part of its family

All of Berlin celebrated the news of the polar bear birth at Tierpark Berlin. She was born December 1, 2018 to parents Tonja and Wolodja, although papa Wolodja had moved to Berlin Zoo, and then to the Netherlands to give peace and quiet to Tonja and her baby. 

Little Hertha and Mom Tonja

As Hertha plays,
 tasting and smelling is part of the experience

Hertha posing for her fans

A hug for her ball
 Many fingers were crossed for the cub's survival, for Tonja had lost three cubs in the past two years.  Fritz lived to be three months old, long enough to get a name, and a little girl last year who died after surviving almost a month. The mortality rate for young cubs is about 50 percent in zoos, maybe worse in the wild.

Hertha waiting for the ball to swing just right

Acting nonchalant

Does the ball suspect?

Just ignoring the ball, but getting ready to pounce.
 But this little girl was strong, and made it through the first three months just fine. In early April, Berlin's Fußball team Hertha BSC announced that they had adopted the cub, and her name would be Hertha (pronounced Herta).

Spotted on one of Hertha's visitors. She has a lot of new fans.

 Berlin's soccer team had been founded in 1892, and named after the steamship Hertha where its founders had met and made plans to form the team well over a century ago. Hertha BSC has made financial contributions in support of the cub, and thus gained naming rights.

At the gate of the Tierpark, announcing Hertha's new sponsor and name

Hertha is thinking with her tongue out.
 It was fitting that the team gave the cub a blue and white soccer ball with the team's name on it, her name, on the day  her name was announced. 

Here Hertha tries to charm the ball with her smile

Hertha plays with her foot, while the ball waits
 When I visited Hertha at the end of May, the six month old cub was a bundle of energy, teasing and wrestling with her mother Tonja over a new strap toy. 

Time for a milk break
 She needed only brief periods of rest, and a few minutes at her mother's milk bar, and then back to playing and swimming. 

Feet ready
Hugging the ball

Giving it a push

"Tor!" She scores
 At the end of the day, she decided she needed a little soccer practice, so she happily played with a suspended ball. Sometimes she would run away, then return and pounce. She liked to swing the ball, and wait for its return, then bat it again. 

Hertha loves the ball.
On some days there is a tube hung from the cord.
She gets different toys every day, to make life interesting.

Today she is lucky. She has her beloved swinging ball

 Playing with a suspended ball gives a polar bear cub some good hunting and pouncing practice.

Hold the ball still

Now stay there...

Doing my stretches

Still there?

Hertha ready for the attack

Got the ball

Swing the ball

What makes it go? Hertha is always trying to figure things out.

The ball keeps swinging

Now what?

Got it!

Both front paws

Go for it, Hertha!
Little Hertha is a natural soccer player, it seems.  She does love to play with balls. 

Little soccer star

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Little Imaq is a Rock and Roll girl

Mother Lynn has much to put up with from her active little daughter Imaq

Just one week ago, I was given a great treat. A friend had arranged for me to visit Lynn and her 6 month old daughter Imaq behind the scenes in Copenhagen Zoo. It was exciting to meet her close up, and give her a little snack of some fennel, her mother's favorite.

I was lucky enough to meet Miss Imaq up close
Later in the week, Imaq and her mom moved to the new big grassy enclosure of the Arctic Ring, the large new area which opened in 2013. However,  I saw them in the old rocky bear habitat, a perfect playground for a fun loving cub like Imaq and a good place to get action photos of this sassy little girl.

Last Monday, Imaq was presented with this new toy.
She had quite a good time with it.
 Here I present the Rock and Roll side of Imaq. She is such a little acrobat, always twisting and turning, wrestling, rocking and rolling about the old enclosure. She was presented with a new tube toy, and made the most of it.

Playing with mom, giving her a big bite.

Imaq's favorite toy is her mom Lynn. Imaq loves to tussle with mom, biting and climbing all over her. Lynn doesn't seem to mind, for it is all a part of cub training.

Imaq gives Mother Lynn a love bite on the nose.
 Imaq was born on December 1, 2018. She was given a name which in Greenlandic means ice on land, a name meant to inspire conversations about climate change.  A twin was born at the same time, but did not live long. 

Imaq on the prowl for trouble

Imaq is quite flexible, always stretching her toes.

Balancing act. Imaq teeters on the edge, just for fun.

Rolling, curling up into a ball

Mother Lynn has to put up with so much with a crazy little daughter like Imaq

Mother Lynn gives back a little playfulness

Imaq loves the big round boulders of the old enclosure,
 perfect for rolling upon

Imaq is ready to jump into the water at any moment

Rocking and Rolling

Rolling and rocking

Rolling the new toy towards the water

Her old little water tube is fun to roll too

Feet in the air. 

Mother Lynn was born in 2011 in Owehands Zoo in the Netherlands, along with her twin brother Luka, who now lives in Wuppertal. Their parents are Huggies and Victor. 

Lynn lived in Vienna for awhile, but came to Copenhagen in 2018, where a big male named Nord was living with another female named Noel. There were just a couple of matings, but that resulted in Imaq.

Father Nord, a Russian bear, is now living in Aalborg Denmark, so there will be a more relaxed atmosphere and more room for the cub in Copenhagen.

Are you watching me roll?

Having fun

Head over heels

Morning exercises. Stretch!

While Lynn and the cub occupy the big green area of the Arctic Ring at the Copenhagen Zoo, the other female, Noel, will be happy to spend time in the old rocky enclosure, which she seems to prefer anyway.

Noel in the old enclosure, in an old photo from 2013.
She is now back among the rocks.

Count my toes!

Coming soon, I will tell about my up close - behind the scenes - visit with Lynn and naughty little Imaq.