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

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