Friday, February 26, 2021

New polar bear cubs of 20/21

The Russian twins - photo by Gelendzhik Safari Park

Today, February 27, 2021, is International Polar Bear Day. It's a great time to take a look at the cubs born this past winter in zoos, since they most likely have all been announced by now. We are celebrating the arrival of nine little ones, including two sets of twins. Three of the new cubs are being raised by keepers.

Almost all the births are to first time mothers. Sesi has successfully raised one cub before, and Suka had given birth several times, but the cubs died within days. The other new moms,  Shilka, Yuki, Ewa and Kometa, now each have their first cub to raise. Seryozhka in Russia is letting the keepers do the mothering job for her twins. 

In Russia, there are three polar bear cubs, including the twins being raised by keepers. One of the fathers, Aion was born in the wilderness. The mother of the twins, Seryozhka, was also a wild orphan, so these are especially welcome fresh genes.

In Japan, two zoos each welcome a cub. This is the first time in a several years since Japan has had cubs, maybe since Lira was born in 2014. 

In Europe, we have one cub in Sweden and another in France.

The only cubs born in the U.S. this year are in Detroit, twins with one being raised by keepers.

Two of the new mothers are rather senior to be having a first cub. Ewa in Sweden has just turned 15 years old. And Yuki in Japan has just turned 21 years old.  

Detroit - November 17

It's twins for 8 year old Suka and 16 year old Nuka in the Arctic Ring of Life in the Detroit Zoo, born November 17, 2020.

Suka is taking good care of one cub, and the other, a girl, is being raised by keepers. When the cubs were a few days old, the keepers, who were watching by den-cam, noticed that one of the cubs was weaker and having trouble, so they separated the family, and swooped in to rescue the little girl. She is doing well, according to reports and photos. The gender of the other cub, still with Mother Suka, is not known. 

Suka and her twin brother Sakari are offspring of Marty and Belgium-born Crystal of the Toledo Zoo. Suka is from the dominant polar bear family in U.S. zoos.

Nuka and his twin brother Koda were born in the Denver Zoo. Their parents were Voda and Kavek. Nuka's genes are rare. He is one of only three male bears alive who have produced cubs in the U.S. zoos, the other two being Suka's father Marty, and Lee.

Suka had given birth the past two years, but the cubs did not live more than a few days. This time, both cubs are doing great. 

Here's Suka's daughter, who is being raised by keepers. Photo by Detroit Zoological Society

Mulhouse, France - November 22

A daughter was born November 22, 2020, to 10 year old Sesi and  10 year old Vicks in Mulhouse France. It was announced this week that her name is Kara.

Vicks and Sesi are already parents of a 4 year old daughter Nanuq, who now lives in Munich. Sesi's great grandmother CW was born in Memphis Tennessee. Vick's grandfather Omaha was born at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska.

Baby Kara and her mother Sesi in Mulhouse, France,
on Kara's first outing this week. Photo published by Mulhouse Zoo.

Osaka, Japan - November 25

November 25, Tennoji Zoo in Osaka, twins were born, with one surviving. Parents are 16 year old Gogo and 7 year old Shilka (Icchan). This is Shilka's first cub. Gogo is the father of six year old Momo (Peach), now in Hamamatsu, Japan.

Shilka was born in Novosibirsk, Russia, the daughter of Gerda and Krassin. Gerda is the daughter of famous Moscow couple Simona and Vrangel. Their other children include Flocke's mother Vera, as well as Milana, Zefirka, Wolodja, and Nord. 

Gogo was born in Perm, to parents Anderma and Yukon. 

Gelendzhik Russia - late November

In late November, twins were born in Gelendzhik Safari Park in Russia, and are being raised by four keepers, all women. The father is 18 year old Commander Sedov, son of Uslada and Menshikov of St. Petersburg. These are his first cubs. The mother is 7 year old Seryozhka (Seleska), who was an orphaned cub herself.

Seleska gave birth outside the den, then went back inside, abandoning the newborns and showing no interest in taking care of them. The keepers took over, and cared for the twins, a girl and a boy. The twins were introduced to the public this week, as the keepers supervised their play inside a glass enclosure, with the cubs' parents looking in from one direction, and the adoring public from the other side.  

The twins in a holiday pose - photo by Gelendzhik Safari Park

Orsa Sweden - December 13

A long awaited birth in Orsa Bear Park in Sweden came on December 3, when 15 year old Ewa brought forth her first cub, fathered by 13 year old Wilbär.

Ewa is one of Huggies and Victor's triplets, born in 2005 in Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands. The other two triplets are Henk, who has fathered three sets of twins in Nuenen, the Netherlands, and Jelle, who is the father of two cubs in St. Felicien in Canada, with two different mothers.   

Wilbär is the only cub from the union of the famous couple from Stuttgart, Germany: Anton and Corinna. 

Akita Japan - December 26

On December 26,  21 year old Yuki and 17 year old Gota produced a cub in Oga Aquarium, Akita Japan. This is a first cub for Yuki. Gota is the father of Milk, born in 2012.

Yuki was born in Palic, Serbia, to father Bjorn-Heinrich and Mother Simba. Bjorn-Heinrich's parents were Aika and Gorki of Tierpark Berlin, which makes Yuki's father the brother of Eric (father of all of Olinka's cubs, and also Felix, father of Flocke, Gregor and Aleut, Charlotte, and Milak). 

Gota is the son of famous Moscow polar bear parents Murma and Untai, which makes him the brother of Rasputin, Kap, Boris/Ivan, Tonja and others. 

Rostov-on-Don Russia - December 27

8 year old Kometa and 11 year old Aion became parents on December 27, 2020 at Rostov-on-Don in Russia. It is a first cub for both of them.

Aion was born in the wilderness on the Chukchi Sea, found as a young cub near the village of Aion and taken to the Moscow Zoo.

Kometa and her twin brother Nanuq were born in Zoo Brno in the Czech Republic to parents Cora and Umka. Nanuq is in  Ukraine and has a daughter. Kometa's mother Cora is daughter of Uslada and Menshikov of St. Petersburg.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Mother Olinka at rest now

                                                        Olinka and one of her cubs 

Olinka was a patient mother, and that quality served her well in raising eight cubs. 

Sizzel and Todz, with mother Olinka

At age 28, which is fairly senior age for a lady polar bear, she was diagnosed with an advanced liver tumor, and possibly kidney involvement, while under anesthetic on Tuesday, February 9, and in light of how unwell she had been lately, it was decided to not wake her.

She had lived at Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam since 2010, where she lived with Eric, father of all her cubs, until his death in 2015. 

Lunchtime in Rotterdam

Olinka was born November 21, 1992 in Cologne, Germany, the daughter of Olga and an American born male named Omaha.

I remember the first polar bears I ever saw, when I used to take my kids to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha Nebraska, many times in 1980-83. At that time, Olaf and Olga had had a cub, named Omaha, born just after my son was born. Omaha grew up and was sent off to Europe. That cub was Olinka's father. Olinka was the only cub he fathered.

Young Olinka and her mother Olga moved to Vienna, where they met Eric. He would father two cubs with Olga, and eight with Olinka.

 There in Vienna, Olinka gave birth to twins Lloyd and Nika in 2000. In 2001, Olinka's mother Olga gave birth to Felix and Nord, so to make room in Vienna, in early 2002, Nika moved to Karlsruhe, and Olinka and young Lloyd moved to Bremerhaven, where Lloyd still lives.

Then back to Vienna, where Lara was born in 2004. Both Olinka and young Lara moved to Gelsenkirchen in 2005,  where they stayed for a year. Then back to Vienna again, leaving Lara in Gelsenkirchen.  Twins Arktos and Nanuq were born in 2007 in Vienna. Then in 2010 Olinka made her final move to Rotterdam, where she gave birth to Vicks at the end of the year. In 2014, Olinka had twins Sizzel and Todz. Shortly afterwards, Eric passed away.

Seven of her eight cubs are alive and well, and have produced eight grandchildren for Olinka.

Lloyd lives in Bremerhaven, and is the father of Lale, Lili, Anna and Elsa. Nika passed away last year in Karlsruhe. Lara still lives in Gelsenkirchen and is the mother of daughter Nanook. Arktos lives in Highlands Wildlife Park and is the father of Wee Hamish. Nanuq lives in Nuremberg. Vicks lives in Mulhouse France and is the father of daughter Nanuq and a brand new cub. Sizzel lives in Rostock, and Todz lives in LeVigen France.

Russian male Wolodja has lived in Rotterdam for the past few years, and now is the only polar bear there. 

Olinka keeping an eye on Todz and Sizzel

Twins Todz and Sizzel, with mom Olinka

Olinka and daughter Sizzel

Olinka and cub

Olinka was a patient mother, here with Sizzel and Todz

It's sad to think that Olinka is gone. She was a loving, attentive mother, happy to play with her cubs, and very affectionate. A beautiful lady. She leaves a lasting legacy in her children and grandchildren.

 There are only a few polar bears of the Olaf and Olga line left in the U.S., in spite of their having seven children. I am happy to know so many of their bloodline lives on in Olinka's cubs all over Europe.

Olinka has now strolled into history. Rest in Peace, sweet lady.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Tragedy in Detroit



Update on April 25, 2021: The cause of Anana's death has been announced. She died of heart failure. The wounds on her head were probably from Nuka trying to move her around the area, maybe nudge her back to life.

Today is a very sad day. Our beloved Anana, age 20, was killed today, Monday, February 8, 2021, by 16 year old Nuka in the Detroit Zoo.  They had lived together last year in peace, and had just been reunited last week when Anana emerged after denning up. 

The male, Nuka, has been with several females over the years, without incident. The other female polar bear at the zoo, Suka, gave birth to twins in November and is behind the scenes. 

Anana in Cincinnati

Anana was born December 12, 2000 in Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City to Chinook and Andy. She went to the Buffalo Zoo when she was two, and lived there until 2013, shortly after she gave birth to Luna, who still lives in Buffalo. Luna's father was the late wildborn Nanuq. Anana took no interest in the cub, so Luna was raised by keepers. Anana moved almost immediately to Chicago. 

Anana in Brookfield Zoo

Anana stayed for several years in Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, where she lived with old Aussie, and with his son Hudson. Then she returned to Buffalo for a year after the Buffalo Zoo completed construction of a beautiful new and spacious polar bear habitat, to replace the antiquated bear pits Anana knew before.

Anana was a very pretty, round fluffy bear

She spent several years in the Cincinnati Zoo, where she initially rejected Little One, but then changed her mind and they got along well, although no cubs resulted. 

Anana, right after she arrived in Cincinnati

While she was in Cincinnati, I went to see her quite a bit, and she was a real favorite with zoo visitors. She was petite, just about 450 pounds, and very round and fluffy, with a cute pouty lower lip. She was playful and fun, and loved to pose for the visitors.

Anana, eating, while Little One adores

She brought out the best in Little One. He was active and playful again, in spite of his advanced years. They seemed to really enjoy each others' company, once Anana got over her original reluctance.

Anana at Halloween. There's that cute lower lip.

Anana would take awhile to warm up to a new male companion. In Buffalo, she didn't want Nanuq at first, but after a year, she decided she liked him after all, and the result was Luna. The same thing happened in Cincinnati. She and Little One would huff and puff at each other, and avoid getting close for the longest time, and then all of a sudden, she couldn't get enough of him.  

Maybe that is what happened in Detroit, but Nuka was impatient and didn't want to play her games. We don't know what happened and maybe never will.

A year ago she moved from Cincinnati to Detroit, and it was hoped that she might have another cub with Nuka.

It is rare for polar bear mating to to lead to a death, but it does sometimes happen with these predators. A similar tragedy happened in Russia last spring, A polar bear named Aurora moved from the Royev Ruchey Zoo in Krasnoyarsk to Izhevsk Zoo in March. She was introduced to the male Baloo, all seemed to be going well. Then Baloo attacked suddenly and killed Aurora, on April 29, 2020.

Anana's sudden tragic death comes as a great shock to me. I knew her so well, and she had a big personality in such a tiny bear body. And now she is gone. I was hoping to see her again this spring when I go to Detroit to see Suka's cubs. I miss her already.

Besides her daughter Luna, she also had twin brothers, Kiska and Koluk, who live in Arizona, and a brother, Denali, who lives in Sapporo Japan.

Rest in Peace, beautiful girl.