Thursday, February 27, 2020

Oldest to youngest - The 44 USA polar bears 2020

Young Bo plays with a barrel in the Toledo Zoo

For International Polar Bear Day, I have put together a list of polar bears in U.S. zoos, oldest to youngest. 

There are 44 polar bears in our zoos, 21 males and 23 females.  Currently there are 22 zoos in the U.S. holding polar bears.

Of the 21 males, only three have fathered cubs: Marty, Lee, and Nuka, although the cubs from Nuka died shortly after birth.

Of the 23 females, seven have given birth: Snow Lilly, Crystal, Nan, Crystal's daughters Aurora and Anana, the Anana now in Detroit, and Crystal's daughter Suka, although the cubs died shortly after birth. Of the 23 females, three are named Anana, which causes some confusion.

We have two polar bears who were born overseas: Crystal was born in Belgium and has a sister Blanche still living there, and old Boris was born in Rostock Germany then sold to the East German circus. We used to have a good number of polar bears brought in from other countries, but recent laws prevent that.

Polar bears born in the wilds of Canada or Alaska are Nan, Blizzard, the three bears in San Diego (Chinook, Tatqiq and Kalluk), Qannik of Louisville and Kali of St. Louis. Qannik and Kali, as property of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, cannot be part of the breeding program.

Our polar bears are descended from mainly five families: Omaha (Olaf and Olga), Brookfield (Aussie and Arki), Memphis (Bruno and Olga/Hilda), Louisville (Irsinaki and Skeena) and Buffalo (Herman II and Becky. As we move to the younger bears, the gene pool narrows to mainly the Brookfield line, which is a problem for genetic diversity if all the younger bears are brothers and sisters.

Snow Lilly of the Milwaukee County Zoo

Our oldest polar bear, 35 years old Snow Lilly, was born in Rochester NY in Seneca Park Zoo on December 5, 1984. Her parents were Penny and Nicklee. Her older sister the late Coldilocks lived to be 37 years old so she may be with us for a few more years. Snow Lilly spent time in the Bronx Zoo where she and the late Blizzard became parents of Tundra, a son, who has since died. She has lived in the Milwaukee County Zoo since 2005, and is known for her skill in dribbling a basketball underwater. Her companion for a time was Zero, and then famous retired circus bear Wilhelm, both of whom have passed on. Snow Lilly is happy living alone.

Boris, the rescued circus bear, age 34 and living in Tacoma

Our oldest male polar bear, 34 years old Boris, was born December 15, 1985 under the stork's nest in Rostock, Germany. As a cub, he was sold into the East German Circus, and later to a Mexican Circus where he and the other polar bears suffered in the heat, terrible conditions and poor diet. Boris and five other bears were rescued when the circus wintered in Puerto Rico, and US agents were able to take custody. Boris and another male bear Kenneth came to Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, where they were nursed back to health. Kenneth has died, and Boris is the last of the rescued circus bears, living a pampered life. His companion is 24 year old wildborn Blizzard. Boris spends most of his time inside now, but occasionally comes out for some sun and fresh air.

Berlin in Como Zoo. Photo by my daughter Corinna

30 years old Berlin was born in the Cincinnati Zoo, along with her twin brother Yukon, on December 11, 1989. Yukon went on to father four cubs with Aurora in Rochester, but he died in 2008. Berlin was named for the fall of the Berlin Wall, current events at the time of her birth. She lived most of her life in Duluth Minnesota with a mate called Bubba, but she never had cubs. The Duluth Zoo is on a river, which flash flooded the zoo in the middle of the night in June of 2012 and Berlin had to swim for her safety. She waited on a rock on high ground to be rescued by her keepers. She was taken in by her Uncles Neil and Buzz in the Como Zoo in St. Paul, just down the river. She then moved to the Kansas City Zoo where she lived for awhile with Nikita, and for a short time with Fanny, but now she is alone again, which she doesn't mind at all. 

Berlin and Yukon are descended from the Omaha and Louisville families. Their mother was Connie (Amy), daughter of  Olaf and Olga. Their father was Icee of the Louisville Zoo, brother of Neil and Buzz, Berit's mother Ulu, and Aquila.   

Little One in foreground, with Rizzo

30 years old Little One is the oldest intact male in the U.S. He was born in the Cleveland Zoo on December 13, 1989 and has lived in the Cincinnati Zoo since 2007, with the late Rizzo and also with Berit, and more recently with Buffalo Anana. In spite of his many girlfriends, he has never fathered cubs. His parents were Snowball and Nauyat (Alfred). His only living relative is a sister, Satuki, who has lived in Japan since she was a cub. 
Nan, now in Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. Photo in Toledo Zoo.
25 years old Nan, short for Nanuyaak, was born in the Alaskan wilderness in late 1994. The cub was taken to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, where she stayed for five months.  She lived in the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma until she was six years old. Nan moved to the Toledo Zoo in 2001, where she gave birth to Nikita in 2006, with Marty as father, the same year Crystal gave birth to twins Aurora and Anana with Marty also as the father. Nan moved to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago in 2017, where she lives with Marty's brother Hudson. 

Chinook, in foreground, with Kalluk
24 years old Chinook was born in the wild in Manitoba Canada in 1995. She came to the San Diego Zoo when she was about a year old. Two years later, cubs Neil and Buzz from Louisville joined her in San Diego. In 2001, wildborn brother and sister twins Kalluk and Tatqiq joined the group, and at the end of 2001, Neil and Buzz left. Since then, Chinook, Kalluk and Tatqiq have formed a stable trio at the San Diego Zoo. Chinook has never had cubs. You can watch them on the San Diego Zoo polar bear cam every day.


24 year old Snowflake was born November 28, 1995 in the Buffalo Zoo. She has spent most of her life at SeaWorld San Diego with her late German friend Szenja, with several periods in the Pittsburgh Zoo. Since Szenja's death, Snowflake has remained in Pittsburgh with her nephew Koda. 

Snowflake is of the Buffalo line. Her parents were Herman II and Becky. Her brothers were Andy, father of Anana; Arturo, who had been sent to Argentina and was the object of many petitions to improve his conditions; and Kavek,  father to Cranbearry of the Alaska Zoo, and twins Koda of the Pittsburgh Zoo and Nuka of the Detroit Zoo. Snowflake was sister of the late Rizzo, who lived in Cincinnati and Salt Lake City. 

Twin brothers Neil and Buzz

24 year old Neil and Buzz were named after the first two humans to walk on the moon. They were born December 9, 1995 in the Louisville Zoo, then lived at the San Diego Zoo from 1997 to 2001. They have lived at Como Zoo in St. Paul Minnesota since then, except for a two year span in 2008-10 when they enjoyed living in Detroit while the Como Zoo polar bear habitat was being expanded and renovated. While they lived in Detroit, they loved playing with young cub Talini.

At Como Zoo, Neil and Buzz have played host to three grizzly bears from a flooded out Minot ND zoo. Later, they welcomed their niece Berlin, who also had escaped from a flooded zoo in Duluth. They shared their habitat with young twins Suka and Sakari while the cubs waited for their new exhibit at Henry Vilas to open.

Neil and Buzz come from the Louisville family of bears. Their parents were Skeena and Irisnak. Their older brother Icee was the father of Berlin and Yukon at the Cincinnati Zoo. Their older sister Ulu was the mother of Berit, longtime resident of the Cincinnati Zoo and current resident of Henry Vilas. Their parents also had triplets in Louisville in 1992, which included the late and much loved Aquila.  Neil and Buzz were neutered so they could stay together and not fight. At the time, it was thought their genes were well represented and there were plenty of polar bears. Now we know that male polar bears can happily live together, even if they are not neutered, just not during breeding season if there is a female around.

Blizzard, with blue ball. Old Boris is at right
24 year old Blizzard was born in the wild in Churchill, Canada, in 1995. He has lived most of his life in Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma Washington, where there were once four polar bears. Now there are just two: Blizzard and old Boris, the rescued circus bear.

23 year old Kiska and Koluk were born November 19, 1996 in Salt Lake City. Since 1997 they have lived in Rio Grande Zoo in Albuquerque NM.

Kiska and Koluk are brothers to Anana (now in Detroit).

They are from the Buffalo family. Their father Andy was the son of Herman II and Becky of the Buffalo Zoo. Andy's brothers were Arturo, who had been sent to Argentina and was the object of many petitions to improve his conditions; and Kavek,  father to Cranbearry of the Alaska Zoo, and twins Koda of the Pittsburgh Zoo and Nuka of the Detroit Zoo. Andy had two sisters: the late Rizzo of Cincinnati and Salt Lake City, and Snowflake who is living in Pittsburgh with Koda, her nephew.

23 years old Anoki was born in Seneca Park Zoo November 20, 1996, the first of four cubs from Aurora and Yukon. Anoki has never had cubs. She lived for ten years in Rio Grand Zoo in Albuquerque 1998-2008 with twin brothers Kiska and Koluk.  From 2008 to 2018 she lived in Baltimore where she lived with Magnet until he died in 2015. When her mother Aurora died last year, Anoki moved back to Seneca Park Zoo so they would have a polar bear there. Her siblings are twins Lee, now in Columbus, and Anana now in North Carolina, and Hayley of Memphis.

Anoki's father Yukon comes from the Omaha and Louisville families. 

Anoki's mother Aurora came from the Memphis Zoo family. Anoki's mother Aurora was sister of Denali, who lives in Japan and has fathered many cubs there. Aurora's twin brother Bubba was mate to Yukon's sister Berlin. Aurora was also half sister of Anana, who just moved to Detroit, and of Kiska and Koluk of Albuquerque.

Anoki's great grandfather Bruno was also father of twins Elvis and CW, who were sent to Europe. Bruno's descendants have many European relatives. 

Marty in a reflective mood

23 year old Marty is the father or grandfather of most of the younger bears in this country. He is from the Brookfield family, son of Australian born Aussie, and Arki. 

Marty lives in the Toledo Zoo, where he fathered twins Aurora and Anana with Crystal, and Nikita with Nan, born in 2006. He is also the father, with Crystal, of Siku, twins Suka and Sakari, Hope and Bo. Nan has moved to Brookfield, but Crystal still lives in Toledo.

Mother Crystal, with cubs Suka and Sakari

21 year old Crystal was born in Belgium on November 10, 1998. She came to the Toledo Zoo in 2000. She is the mother of twins Aurora and Anana of Columbus, Siku of Lincoln Park, twins Suka of Detroit and Sakari of Buffalo, Hope of Salt Lake City, and Bo, still living with his mom. Marty is the father of all her cubs. She is grandmother of Nora, Amelia Gray, Nuniq, and the new cub in Columbus.

Crystal has a sister Blanche still living in Belgium, and is related to several polar bears living in Europe, including Danish Siku.

Little One gives a kiss to Berit
21 year old Berit  and her twin brother Ulaq were born in Denver on December 28, 1998. The twins came to the Cincinnati Zoo as young cubs. Ulaq died rather mysteriously when he was four years old, and it was attributed to liver failure. Berit lived happily in the Cincinnati Zoo with Rizzo and Little One for many years, but never got pregnant. She used to curl up with Rizzo to take naps, and missed her friend when she moved away. Berit moved to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison Wisconsin in 2016, first living with young girl cub Suka, and now with young Nunik.

Berit is descended from the Omaha bears, and the Louisville family.

Tatqiq offers a towel to her brother Kalluk at the San Diego Zoo

Twins 19 year old Tatqiq and her brother Kalluk were born in the wilds of Canada in the winter of 2000. They came to the San Diego Zoo as young cubs. It was decided that Chinook would be mate to Kalluk, and Tatqiq would stay with her brother as a playmate. The three bears all get along well. There have never been any cubs from Chinook. Tatqiq has been on birth control, and thus is unable to have cubs now. 

You can watch Tatqiq, Kalluk and Chinook on the zoo's polar bear cam. There are special events for International Polar Bear Day. 

20 year old twins Lee and his sister (North Carolina) Anana were born November 27, 1999, in Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester NY to Aurora and Yukon.

Lee has lived in Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago several times, in Milwaukee, in Detroit, and then in Denver with old lady Cranbearry.  A year ago he moved to the Columbus Zoo, and just a few months ago, Aurora gave birth to a little boy cub, Lee's first.

Lee's twin sister Anana spent most of her life alone in Lincoln Park Zoo, until she moved to Asheboro North Carolina to be with Nikita in 2014. Hopes were high that these bears would have cubs, but nothing so far. 

Lee and Anana come from the Louisville and Omaha branches on their father Yukon's side, and the Buffalo family on their mother Aurora's side.

Anana ignores Little One's attentions at the Cincinnati Zoo

19 year old (Detroit) Anana  was born in Salt Lake City on December 12, 2000. She lived for many years in the Buffalo Zoo, where she gave birth to several cubs, only one, Luna, survived, thanks to the intervention of the keepers, for Anana is not a caring mother. The father of Anana's cub Luna was wildborn Nanuq.

Anana went on to live in Brookfield Zoo while a new polar bear habitat was built in Buffalo. She then returned to Buffalo, but soon moved to Cincinnati to spend time with elderly polar bear Little One, and hopefully produce another cub. After two seasons, that did not happen, so Anana is now in Detroit, to mate with proven male Nuka, who is also her first cousin. 

Anana's father Andy is from the Buffalo family. Andy was the son of Herman II and Becky of the Buffalo Zoo. Andy's brothers were Arturo, who had been sent to Argentina and was the object of many petitions to improve his conditions; and Kavek,  father to Cranbearry of the Alaska Zoo, and twins Koda of the Pittsburgh Zoo and Nuka of the Detroit Zoo, where Anana now lives. Andy had two sisters: the late Rizzo of Cincinnati and Salt Lake City, and Snowflake who is living in Pittsburgh with Koda, her nephew.

Anana's mother Chinook is from the Memphis family. Through Anana's half brother Denali, who moved to Japan, she is aunt to a number of Japanese polar bears. She is also half sister of the late Aurora of the Seneca Park Zoo.  Anana's brothers, twins Kiska and Kolluk, live in Albuquerque.

18 year old Cranbearry, sister of Nuka and Koda, is also a cousin of Anana. She was born November 21, 2001 in Denver to parents Voda and Kavek. She moved to Memphis, then came back to Denver where she lived with Lee. When the Denver zoo decided to close their polar bear facility, Lee moved to Columbus and Cranbearry moved to the Alaska Zoo. She had a companion, the Russian born bear Lyutyik, but he passed away suddenly last year, and now Cranbearry is alone in Anchorage.  

She is a descendant of the Buffalo family but Clark, founder of the Brookfield dynasty, was her greatgrandfather. 


17 years old Hayley was born November 15, 2002 to Aurora and Yukon in the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester New York. In 2005 she moved to the Brookfield Zoo where she was matched up with young Peyton. The two of them moved to the Memphis Zoo. Cranbearry was living in Memphis, and stayed for four years, but then Cranbearry moved to Denver.  Hayley and Peyton remain in Memphis, but have never had cubs.

Hayley is descended from the Omaha and Louisville families on her father Yukon's side, and the Memphis family on her mother Aurora's side.


16 years old Payton was born in Brookfield Zoo November 8, 2003, the son of Aussie and Arki. When he was three years old, he and his companion Hayley moved to the Memphis Zoo, where they are to this day.

Payton is from the Brookfield dynasty. He is brother of Hudson, still in Brookfield, and Marty, of the Toledo Zoo.

15 year old Talini was something of a miracle child. She was born on November 22, 2004, in the Detroit Zoo to rescued circus bear Bärle, her first cub and at an advanced age of 20. Bärle raised Talini, teaching her to "hunt" seals in the habitat's  pools. Talini lived with Nuka for many years, but there were no cubs, so she was moved to Lincoln Park  in Chicago several years ago to be with Siku.

Talini's father was young Triton, son of wildborn Norton and Trixie of the Omaha line.  it is believed that Bärle was born wild in Manitoba, before she was captured and taken into the East German circus.


Twins 15 year old Koda and Nuka were born November 25, 2004 in Denver, to parents Voda and Kavek. They both moved to Pittsburgh when they were two years old. In 2011, Nuka moved to Detroit as a mate for Talini. Now Anana (mother of Luna) has joined them.

Their father Kavek was from the Buffalo family. Their mother Voda's grandfather was Clark of Brookfield.

13 year old Nikita was born in the Toledo Zoo November 21, 2006 to Marty of the Brookfield family and wildborn Nan. He lived in the Kansas City Zoo from 2010 to 2016, and for a time, shared space with Berlin. In 2016 he moved to the North Carolina Zoo, where he now lives with Anana (born in Rochester). 

Aurora and Anana

13 year old twins Aurora and Anana were born in the Toledo Zoo November 25, 2006, four days after Nan gave birth to Nikita in the den next door. The father was the same, Marty. The twins' mother was Crystal, who was born in Belgium. 

The Toledo Zoo was a busy place during those years, with Nan raising Nikita, and Crystal raising the twin girls. 

Twins Aurora and Anana moved to Pittsburgh in 2008, and to the new polar bear habitat at the Columbus Zoo in 2010. 

Aurora gave birth to Nora in 2015, who was raised by keepers.

In 2016, both sisters gave birth. Aurora had twins, Nuniq and Neva. Anana had Amelia Grey. The father of all four cubs was the late Nanuq, who had previously fathered Luna with (Detroit) Anana.

 This past November. Aurora gave birth again to a boy with Lee as the father.


13 year old Hudson was born December 14, 2006, in Brookfield Zoo in Chicago to parents Aussie and Arki. Hudson still lives at Brookfield, and his companion is Nan.

Hudson is brother to Marty and Payton.


10 year old Siku was born at the Toledo Zoo on December 3, 2009 to Marty and Crystal. He moved to the Louisville Zoo, where he lived, separately, with wildborn Qannik, and now lives in the Lincoln Park Zoo with Talini. 

He is descended from the Brookfield family, and his mother Crystal was born in Belgium.
Qannik as a cub in Louisville
9 year old Qannik was born wild on the North Slope of the Alaska oilfields. She became separated from her mother and sister in a storm and was rescued and taken to the Alaska Zoo. A few months later, after she had gained some weight, she was flown to the Louisville Zoo where she still resides. Her birthday was assigned to her by Fish and Wildlife - as January 2010.  As property of Fish and Wildlife, she cannot be part of the breeding program.

7 year old twins Suka (girl) and Sakari (boy) were born November 21, 2012 in the Toledo Zoo to Marty and Crystal. The twins moved to Como Zoo in St. Paul, then to the new habitat at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison Wisconsin. Suka now lives at the Detroit Zoo with Nuka and Anana (born in SLC). Suka has given birth the cubs for the past two seasons, but they did not survive. This bodes well for the future, for it shows that she is fertile, and can have cubs.

7 year old Luna was born November 27, 2012 at the Buffalo Zoo. Her father Nanuq had already moved to Columbus, and her mother Anana promptly moved to Brookfield Zoo, while Luna's birth was kept secret. Luna was raised by keepers. She was soon joined by a rescued Alaskan cub, Kali, so each had a playmate to grow up with. During this time, the old bear pits were torn down, and a beautiful new polar bear habitat was built. Kali moved to St. Louis, and Luna's mother (Detroit) Anana returned, only to leave again for Cincinnati. Then Sakari arrived so Luna has a mate, but no cubs yet. 

7 year old Kali was born in the Alaskan wilderness in 2012. His mother was shot by a hunter, who realized there was a cub and tracked him down in his den. He was taken to the Alaska Zoo, kept there for a few months, and then flown to the Buffalo Zoo to be a companion for Luna. He now lives alone in the St. Louis Zoo. As a property of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, he cannot be part of the breeding program.

Nora as a cub in Columbus

4 year old Nora was born in Columbus on November 6, 2015 to Aurora and Nanuq. Aurora started to neglect the cub, so the keepers stepped in and raised Nora. When she was a year old, she moved to the Portland Zoo, then to the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, where she now lives with Hope, her aunt of the same age.  

She is of the Brookfield family, and her father wildborn Nanuq was also the father of Luna in Buffalo. 

Hope in Toledo

4 year old Hope was born in Toledo on December 3, 2015, to Marty and Crystal. She now lives in the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City with her niece Nora of the same age. 

Amelia Gray as a cub, with her mother Anana, in Columbus

The year after Nora was born, both twin sisters Aurora and Anana gave birth at the Columbus Zoo, with wildborn Nanuq as the father of all three cubs. They are all of the Brookfield line, of course.

3 year old Amelia Gray was born November 8, 2016 to Mother Anana (Columbus) and father Nanuq.

3 year old twins Nuniq (boy) and Neva (girl) were born November 14, 2016 to mother Aurora and father Nanuq.

The mothers and cubs rotated days, so they were never all together at the Columbus Zoo.

Nuniq now lives with Berit at Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin.

Neva and Amelia Gray live together in the Maryland Zoo. They might as well be sisters, for they have the same father and their mothers are twin sisters.

Neva bites Nuniq's ear - in Columbus
Bo of the Toledo Zoo

1 year old Bo, short for Borealis, was born December 9, 2018 at the Toledo Zoo. He is still living with his mother Crystal, and father Marty is nearby.  

6 month old cub, currently with no name, was born November 28, 2019 in the Columbus Zoo, a fourth cub for Aurora and a first for father Lee. The cub will probably make his public debut in May.

Friday, February 14, 2020

A look at polar bear LOVE for Valentine's Day

 For Valentine's Day,
 some glimpses of romantic love between polar bears.

Flocke and Raspi
 Marineland, Antibes France - 2018

Little One and Anana
Cincinnati Zoo - 2018

Little One and Anana
 Cincinnati Zoo - 2018

"The Coy Lady"
Little One and Berit
Cincinnati Zoo - 2013

Little One runs away wit Berit's icy heart
 Cincinnati Zoo - 2015 

Yoghi and Giovanna
Hellabrunn Tierpark, Munich - 2011

Yoghi and Giovanna
Tierpark Hellabrunn, Munich - 2011

Nord and Malik
Aalborg Denmark - 2019

Little One and Anana
 Cincinnati Zoo - 2019

Corinna and Anton - The Wilhelma - Stuttgart Germany - 2011
Every afternoon, Anton would climb onto a jutting rock, and Corinna would come up next to him, and lick his ears. A sign of great love.

"Yin and Yang"
Raspi and Flocke
Marineland - Antibes France - 2018

"Love bite"
Flocke and Raspi
Marineland, Antibes France - 2018
"Two Ladies"
Nanuq and twin sisters Aurora and Anana
Columbus Zoo - 2013

Not polar bears, but these two hippos knew now to show love.
 Fiona's parents Henry and Bibi - Cincinnati Zoo - 2017