Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Lee comfy in Columbus


Lee is getting comfortable at the Columbus Zoo. The girls, Anana and Aurora, are denned up for the season, so he has the whole place to himself. He prefers to sleep outside in his "man cave," rearranging the raffia bedding to suit himself.

It is Wildlights Season at the Columbus Zoo,
 with lots of lights, even during the day.

Lee's "man cave" and his scratching post

When he does spend time indoors, the keepers give him lots of cardboard boxes to arrange and rearrange in his indoor bedroom, because he loves to decorate. Cardboard would be a problem with the water filtration system of the pools, so he has to be happy with fluffy straw and raffia outside.

Interior Design by Lee

Lee weighs 1100 pounds now

He arrived about a year ago from the Denver Zoo, where he had been living with Cranbearry, although they were kept separate. In Denver, he was showing stereotypical behavior, that is pacing and repetitive movements. It is much better in Columbus, where he has wide open meadows and lots of space for roaming and swimming.

He is very fond of Aurora and Anana, but is making the best of it while they are denned up. He is also very attached to his keepers, and they are very fond of him as well.

His fur is looking great now that it has grown in

I visited earlier this week, and Lee had just had his weekly allergy shot. The keepers have trained him to back up against the bars so he can get the injection, while another keeper fed him watermelon and peanut butter.

Lee thinking about another nap
 He has suffered from multiple allergies, and needs the weekly injections to keep the itching at bay. He was scratching quite a bit on Monday, but his keepers said that he should be much better the next day. They tried to get him interested in playing with his toys, or swimming, but he was having a lazy day on Monday.

The keepers are used to dealing with allergies, as the late Nanuq had a severe allergy to grass, and they had to medicate him for that.

It feels good to scratch that itch

His "itching" grimace

He has his favorite scratching posts, a trunk of a tree that has lots of knobs sticking out. He sometimes rubs on stones too. 

Showing his beautiful teeth which he scratches

When he scratches with his paws, or rubs against something,  he makes funny biting faces, showing his teeth.

Scratching an itchy tummy
Lee has enjoyed his time with sisters Aurora and Anana. Each has produced cubs before, so chances are good we may have cubs again this year.

On his way to the scratching post
 Neither Lee, nor any of his siblings have produced cubs yet. Lee's mother was the late Aurora, and his father was the late Yukon, who, along with his twin Berlin, were the last polar bears born at the Cincinnati Zoo, in 1989.

Aurora and Yukon were parents of Anoki, now in Seneca Park Zoo Lee's twin sister Anana of the North Carolina Zoo, and Haley of the Memphis Zoo.

Lee loves his soft bedding
 Lee is descended on his mother's side from the Memphis Zoo's Bruno, and on his father's side from Olaf and Olga of the Omaha Zoo, and thus is related to many of the bears in Europe, such as all of Olinka's children and all of Freedom's children. Elvis was his cousin, and so is Ranzo.

Lee watches me

 Lee's keepers say that he weighs about 1100 pounds. His fur has grown in and is looking much better than when he arrived a year ago, all nice and white and fluffy. 

Lee blends in with his fluffy bedding, all carefully arranged
A little more scratching
Itchy ear
Lee's itchy allergies are much better with his weekly allergy shots

 I had visited Lee once before, in the summer of 2009, when he was in Detroit with retired rescued circus bear Bärle. He was much more interested in Bärle's young 4 year old daughter Talini who was across the way in another enclosure. Lee could see Talini, who was in with Neil and Buzz at the time, if he stood up. Lee was pacing, then standing, trying to impress Talini from a distance. Those were the days when I didn't have a good camera, so the photos are not the best, but nevertheless historic.

Lee in the grassy area at the Detroit Zoo Arctic Ring of Life in summer of 2009

Lee looking over at young Talini next door - 2009 in Detroit

Lee a decade ago, in Detroit

I am hopeful Lee will at last be a daddy, and we will have some cubs in the Columbus Zoo again.

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