Thursday, July 30, 2020

Mother Ilka is no more

Ilka and one of her twins

Ilka has been gone for six months, and we didn't even know.

A friend of mine, a German polar bear blogger who had just visited Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Kolind, Denmark, relayed the information that beloved polar bear mother Ilka had passed away during the winter of 2019-20. She would have been 26 years old. Her death was not announced, but the park has since confirmed that Ilka died in December.

Ilka, cub and seaweed
 Ilka and her twin brother Nuuk were born December 2, 1993 in Kolmarden in Sweden. Their mother was American born bear C.W., daughter of Olga and Bruno, born in the Memphis Zoo in 1979. Nuuk/Nordman became the father of Freedom. Ilka and Nuuk's father was Imarek. Younger siblings were Manasse (father of Ranzo and Sisu), and twins Baffin and Yukihime, who went to Japan.


Ilka and her brother Nuuk

Ilka's brother Nuuk/Nordman, who died one year before

Ilka and her twins

Ilka and Nuuk came to Skandinavisk Dyrepark as it was just opening in at the end of 2006.

Ilka with Nanu and Nuno, waiting for feeding time

Nuuk/Nordman found a pal in the other young male bear, Nanook, who was mate to Ilka and father of her cubs. Nuuk died one year before Ilka, during the winter of 2018/19.

Over the years, Ilka had given birth to cubs, but had trouble producing milk and no cubs survived. When Siku was born November 22, 2011, the park director stepped in and took over the care of the tiny cub, since Ilka again was not producing milk. Siku was raised by hand, with many photos and videos posted. You could watch him on webcam too, as he grew up. Danish Siku became an internet sensation. He still lives in the park.

Baby Siku, raised by hand, would suckle on pieces of wood

A new treatment for milk production was given to Ilka when she gave birth to Nuno and Nanu a year later, and she was able to raise the twins with no problem. When they were old enough and big enough, Siku (who was only a year older) was brought in as a playmate for the twins, and the family got along very well. 

In 2014 - Siku, Nuno and Nanu playing together

The beautiful Ilka

Feeding time. Ilka and the cubs would line up and wait.

Siku is still there, as well as Nuno, the girl, who remains at Skandinavisk Dyrepark. Her twin Nanu, who spent some time with older bear Felix in Leuwaarden, the Netherlands, is now in Parc Zoo du Reynou, France, with another young male bear.
Ilka and her daughter Nuno

Ilka and Nanu, waiting for food

Ilka and Nuno

Nuno, Ilka and Nanu at feeding time

Ilka was 26 years old. She was a lovely bear, a good mother.

Ilka and her twins in 2014

Mother Ilka with Nanu and Nuno