Saturday, July 17, 2021

"Save Our Sea Ice" Day with Lee and Qannik


Lee in the Louisville Zoo

Polar Bears International created Arctic Sea Ice Day, observed on July 15 every year, to draw attention to this loss and how we can reverse the trend. I visited to Louisville Zoo on July 15, and was able to see both their polar bears, the wild orphan Qannik, and new father Lee. He is the father of 20 month old Kulu in the Columbus Zoo.

Qannik poses for photos in her usual spot

Since it was Arctic Ice Day, both polar bears were there to greet the public: Qannik was in the big pool area and Lee was in the glassed in room. The Louisville Zoo also has three Grizzly bears, who usually are in the rotation between the indoor areas and the two public areas, but today, it was all about the polar bears.

The keepers had made July 15 a day to learn about the importance of Arctic Sea Ice and how climate change is rapidly impacting the polar bears by shortening the sea ice season.    


Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt for seals, who hide under the ice. Every year, the ice forms later in the fall, and melts earlier in the spring, meaning less time to hunt.

At the Louisville Zoo, it was a day to learn how we can use less energy, to help save the Sea Ice. As an activity, children could learn about ways to cut energy usage, and they could create their own message with their plans to help the environment. This was one of many pictures on the windows.

Meanwhile in Columbus, Anana, cub Kulu (Lee's son)
and Mother Aurora

Lee was in the big glassed in space, with a pile of ice.

Lee finds the ice chips.

Yummy ice chips.

Lee peeks out the window.

Lee and his twin sister Anana (NC Zoo) were born in the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, New York, on November 27, 1999. Their parents were Aurora, born in Salt Lake City, and Yukon, born in the Cincinnati Zoo.

Lee has lived in the Lincoln Park Zoo, Milwaukee, Detroit (where I first saw him), Denver, and Columbus. 

                   Meanwhile, in Columbus, Anana, cub Kulu and Aurora

Lee's first and only cub Kulu was born November 28, 2019 in Columbus, to mother Aurora. Lee was shipped out to Louisville in November of 2020, so Aurora and Kulu could have the space, soon joined by Aurora's twin sister Anana. These days in Columbus, you can visit Kulu, at 600 pounds, who bigger than his mother and his aunt. 


Stairways and ramps at Glacier Run help keep the bears' legs strong.

According to the Louisville Keepers, Lee now weighs a little less than a thousand pounds. Qannik weighs 525 pounds. The bears ted to weigh a little less this time of year.

Lee, a bear with two faces. His tail makes a curlicue,
 rather like a silly face with eyes too. 

Another pic of Lee's rear end.

Qannik sits at the window and poses with the kids.  Since she was raised by humans, she has a real bond with her visitors.

Lee and his Arctic Sea Ice message.

According to PBI:

The Arctic is warming three times as fast as the rest of the planet. Polar Bears rely on Sea Ice to hunt, breed, roam and sometimes den. 

But it's not just about polar bears.

Sea ice serves as the earth’s air conditioner, helping to keep our planet cool. It’s also the basis of the Arctic marine food web and is used by Northern communities for transportation and access to food.

Future generations of polar bears and people depend on the decisions we make today. That's why it's important to work together to protect the sea ice that all of us rely on.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Kulu is one big baby


Aunt Anana on the left greets her twin sister Aurora,
 while Kulu peeks between

Visitors to the Columbus Zoo are amazed by the size of 19 month old polar bear cub Kulu. Compared to his mom and his aunt, who live with him, it isn't easy to tell them apart by size alone. You can tell it is Kulu by his cubbish ways, his never ending play.  Aurora can be told from the others by the dark paint on her paw, and by the "milk bar" since baby Kulu, heavier than his mom, is still nursing. 

Kulu's father Lee has moved to the Louisville Zoo.

Young Kulu leads his mom Aurora

Kulu, the only zoo polar bear cub in the US born in 2019, is just over a year and a half old, and is heavier than his mother Aurora and her twin Sister Anana. All three share the glorious enclosure at the Columbus Zoo. I have gotten several weight numbers on him, but all put him at about 600 pounds, very heavy for such a young bear. Aunt Anana weighs just a few pounds less, and mother Aurora, still nursing, is well under the weight of either. 

Sometimes Kulu likes to play close to his mom.

Kulu is pretty independent, so his mother can nap and watch him from a distance while he plays. He runs over to touch base with her every once in awhile.

Kulu top, Anana below

But now Kulu has his playful Aunt Anana to spend time with, and these two love to play. Anana knows how to deal with a cub, as she is mother to Amelia Gray, now almost five years old and living in Maryland with Aurora's daughter Neva of the same age. Aurora is also mother to Nora, almost six years old and living in the Oregon Zoo, and Neva's twin Nuniq, living in Kansas City. 

Mother Aurora and Kulu on shore,
while Anana stations herself in the prime spot for
 the Keeper Talk/ Snack Time.

When it was feeding time, and a keeper climbed up to the roof to throw down some goodies, Mother Aurora held back, staying on the shore, while Anana stationed herself right under the keeper, waiting for the best bits.

Mother Aurora and Kulu wait on shore for the coming snacks.

Soon Kulu jumped in to get what he could, but Aurora stayed on shore. Anana seems to be in charge of the snacks. The keepers always throw treats to Aurora on shore, since she refuses to go into the water. They got some fish, sweet potatoes and lettuce.

Kulu asks Mom to jump in.  Mom stays put.

Kulu knows to get the best snacks,
 he should swim up to the viewing window.  

Aurora and Anana's late grandmother Arki was particularly fond of lettuce.

Enough lettuce for all!

A little water fight between Aunt Anana and Kulu

Kiss and make up. Kulu is on the right. The reflections at the viewing window make photography a challenge sometimes.

Aurora still on shore. Kulu and Anana ask her to come in to play.
But no

Lettuce or toy? Kulu wants both.

Anana and Kulu at the window

Kulu goes off to play by himself. He likes this ball. 

Kulu stalks the ball, ready to pounce.

And he pounces. It is a natural behavior necessary
for hunting seals in the wild

While her sister Anana takes a nap, and her son Kulu plays on his own, Mother Aurora enjoys some peace and quiet in the shade. Note the dark spot on her paw, so keepers can tell the sisters apart.