Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The beloved polar bears we lost in 2019

Fanny (Bam Bam)
We said goodbye to some very special bears this past year. Each one is unique, and a great loss.

Nord - age 17

Nord and his twin brother Felix were b0rn November 24, 2001 in Vienna, to Olga and Eric.

Nord died early in the year,  on January 8, 2019 in Tallinn, Estonia. He had been treated for over a year for a behavioral problem that led to an ulcer on his foot, and his condition had deteriorated. 

Nord and Felix's father was Eric, and their mother was Olga, mother of Olinka. For a period of a couple of months, back in 2001-02, there were four cubs in Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna, newborn cubs Nord and Felix, and one year old twins Nika and Lloyd, all with the same father, and the mothers were mother and daughter.

Nord lived in Novosibirsk Russia for five years, then Moscow. He came to Tallinn in 2009

Nord was the father of Nora born in 2013, now in Vienna and a new mother.

Nord's son Aron was born in 2016 and the cub is still in Tallinn with his mother Frida. 

Nord's favorite drink was kefir, a yogurt drink. 

His twin brother Felix, father of Flocke, Milak, Gregor and Aleut and Charlotte, now lives in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

Bam Bam (Fanny) - age 31

Fanny with my mother, at the Omaha Zoo

The last of the six Olaf and Olga offspring from the zoo in Omaha, Bam Bam died  on February 20.

Bam Bam and her twin sister Patches were born November 29, 1987. For 20 years, Patches and Bam Bam happily lived together in the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, where they were born. They were separated in 2007, when Patches was moved to a much poorer enclosure in Erie Pa, for breeding purposes. Patches may have become pregnant, but no cubs ever survived. In 2013 Patches was moved to a much better environment, a new enclosure in the North Carolina Zoo, where she seemed to thrive, but died a year after moving in. That was five years ago.

Bam Bam, given that nickname because she liked to bang on the door to alert her keepers, was moved, not far from where she was born, to the Kansas City Zoo in the spring of 2018. At the time, the Henry Doorly Zoo was completely redesigning Bear Canyon, and all the residents had to move elsewhere. Bam Bam said goodbye to the only home she had ever known and moved in with her great niece Berlin, who was about the same age as Bam Bam. Berlin is the granddaughter of Bam Bam's brother Shep. The Kansas City Zoo enclosure is huge and grassy and a lovely environment for polar bears.

Bam Bam enjoyed her fine new home, and got along well with Berlin, but died at the age of 31 after developing liver cancer.

Bam Bam enjoying her favorite treat 

Bam Bam really loved her celery. Her keepers would throw a variety of fruits and vegetables into the pool, and she would always go for the celery first. She loved peanut butter too. 

She was very interactive with her fans, and would swim back and forth in front of the glass so she could study them.

Olaf and Olga were the first polar bears I ever saw. I was happy to bring my mother to meet Bam Bam, one of their cubs. Bam Bam was very gracious to my mom, and paid her a great deal of attention.

Nuuk-Nordman - age 25

Nuuk - also called Nordman

Nuuk - Nordman died in March at Skandanavisk Dyrepark in Kolind Denmark at the age of 25 years. 

He and his twin sister Ilka were born on December 2, 1993 in  Kolmarden Zoo in Sweden. He was given the name Nordman. 

While in Sweden, he met a young wildborn bear named Huggies, and he fathered a cub with her in 2001. Huggies and the cub Freedom moved to the Netherlands shortly thereafter. Ilka and Nordman stayed in Kolmarden until January of 2006 when they moved to the newly opened Skandanavisk Dyrepark. The zoo in Kolmarden had decided to not keep polar bears anymore, and there was a brand new zoo waiting for them. In Denmark, he was renamed Nuuk. At the same time, a 4 year old cub bear named Nanok also moved to the new Skandanavisk Dyrepark, which had room for many bears. Nuuk and Nanok became inseparable, except during breeding season when Nanok spent all his time with Nuuk's sister Ilka, which produced some cubs. 

Nuuk and Nanok

Skandanavisk Dyrepark with room to roam

Nuuk and Ilka's mother CW was twin sister to Elvis, father of the famous Tips and Taps hybrid bears in Osnabruck. Elvis and CW were born in Memphis Tennessee. Nuuk and Ilka's grandfather Bruno (in Memphis) was also the grandfather of Cincinnati's Anana, and twins Kiska and Kolluk of Albuquerque.

Nuuk and Ilka's father Imarac was half brother to Churchill, Kara, Lisa, and Mirsha, so they were first cousins of Boris of Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Knut's father Lars, and many other polar bears of Europe.

Nuuk and Ilka were also younger siblings of the late Manasse of Finland, and the late Yukihime, and Baffin of Japan

Nuuk leaves a legacy of descendants. He fathered one cub, Freedom, with Huggies. Like her mother, Freedom is a prolific mother. She has recently given birth to another set of twins in Ouwehands, the Netherlands. She is also the mother of new father Sprinter, twins Taiko and Sesi of France, and twins Sura of Ouwehands and Akiak of Rostock. 

Nuuk passed away peacefully in his sleep. I am sure his good friend Nanok misses him greatly.

Bora - almost 33 years old

Born in Vienna, Bora spent ten years in Dvůr Králové Zoo in the Czech Republic, but most of her life in Prague.  She had one cub, Berta, who still lives in Prague with her mate Tom.

Nika - age 19


Nika died on her 19th birthday in Zoo Karlsruhe in Germany, gone much too soon, much too young. 

She and her twin brother Lloyd were born November 26, 2000, in Vienna to Olinka and Eric. 

Nika came to Karlsruhe in early 2002 when she was little more than a year of age. Both Nika and Lloyd left Vienna shortly after Olinka's mother Olga gave birth to another set of twins, Nord and Felix, in the same zoo with same father, Eric. 

While Lloyd went to the new Zoo Am Meer in Bremerhaven, Nika came to the brand new polar bear habitat in Zoo Karlsruhe, along with two young males, one year old Vitus from Rostock and one year old Kap from Moscow. A year later, ten year old Larissa came from nearby Stuttgart.

Kap left for Neumünster several years later, but the other three stayed in Karlsruhe, and Nika grew up with Vitus. The  three bears got along well, wrestling, chasing each other, and playing games in the large habitat.

Nika, Vitus and Larissa having fun

 Nika and Larissa were very close, and often took naps near each other.

Nika and a sleeping Larissa

There were hopes every year that Nika would have cubs, but it never happened, and several years ago, tests showed that Vitus was sterile. So Vitus and Larissa moved to Neumünster, and Kap came back to Karlsruhe in the spring of 2017.

Again, there were hopes that Nika would produced cubs, this time with Kap, but along they got along well, it just didn't happen, and now she is gone, all too soon.

Nika had been troubled for several years by ulcers on her back leg. She kept worrying at it, chewing on it. The vets tried everything, even put some blue substance on it to keep her from chewing. Her condition deteriorated suddenly, and the decision was made to prevent further suffering.

As an offspring of Olinka, Nika was related to some American bears. She was the great granddaughter of Olaf and Olga of the Omaha Zoo, as Olinka's father was the late Omaha, one of the six offspring of Olaf and Olga, brother to Bam Bam, who also died this year. 

Blizzard - age 5

A five year old bear named Blizzard died while being examined at the Journey to Churchill at Assiniboine Park Zoo in Canada. He had come to the zoo with his twin sister Star as a year old orphaned cub, having been picked up by a helicopter. He had recently been unwell, not eating, and had been put under anesthesia to assess his condition, and was given antibiotics. He was doing well, then his condition worsened again, and he was again put under anesthesia, but did not come out of it. There may have been some heart abnormalities.

There are nine other young rescued polar bears at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Lutyik - almost age 19

Twins Liya and Lutyik were born December 9, 2000, to Uslada and the late Menschikov in St. Petersburg Russia. Uslada and Menschikov had 16 cubs, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren throughout Russia, Europe and Japan.

Lutyik of the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage died October 13, at nearly 19 years of age. He was born in St. Petersburg, and moved to Australia when he was just a cub, living there for five years with his sister Liya.

In Alaska, Lutyik was paired with Ahpun, but no cubs ever appeared and Ahpun died in early 2018.

Later in 2018, Lutyik welcomed a new companion, Cranbeary, to Anchorage.

Lutyik was suffering from a tumor on his kidney.  

Liya- age 19

As the year closes, we have just heard the sad news that Lutyik's twin sister Liya of Sea World Gold Coast in Australia has died suddenly and mysteriously. She was only 19. She was mother of Henry, born in the summer of 2012 and Mishka, who was born in the summer of 2017 and still lives in Australia. With the death of Liya, there are only theee polar bears in Australia: Mishka and her father Hudson, and another male named Nelson, who fathered Henry, now in Canada.

Rest in Peace, beautiful bears.

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