Saturday, February 26, 2022

Here is who had polar bear cubs this year!

The little girls in Rostock - photo courtesy of Zoo Rostock 

Happy International Polar Bear Day on February 27!

We have had news of eight cubs born in zoos in November and December. The cubs will make their public debuts sometime in the spring, but for now, they are still denned up with their mothers. We know the Rostock cubs are girls, and the twins in Skandinavisk Dyrepark are girls as well. Victoria's baby is a boy. No news on the others just yet.

Rostock, Germany

 In Rostock, Germany, there is currently a naming contest for the twin girls born to Sizzel and Akiak on November 14. Both are first time parents.

Sizzel in Rostock

Sizzel and her twin brother Todz were born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in 2014 to Olinka and Eric. Olinka's father Omaha was born to Olaf and Olga in the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha Nebraska, so Sizzel is closely related to a number of US bears. 

Akiak in Rostock

Akiak and his twin sister Sura were born in Ouwehands in the Netherlands in 2015, to Freedom and the late Victor (one of the "V" cubs from Rostock). Freedom's grandmother CW was born in Memphis, so these cubs are cousins of some US polar bears through Akiak as well.  

Orsa in Sweden

First time mother Hope gave birth to twins, fathered by Wilbär, in Orsa Predator Park in Sweden on November 20. This news came about the same time that the park announced it will be closing in October. 

Hope is the daughter of Flocke and Raspi, and was born in 2014 in Marineland in Antibes France.

Hope in 2017 in France

Wilbär was born in 2007 in the Wilhelma in Stuttgart, Germany, the son of the late Corinna and Anton. Wilbär is the father of Miki, born last year to mother Ewa at the park.

Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Denmark

First time parents Nuno and Boris/Ivan had twin daughters in Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Kolind Denmark on December 12.

Nuno on right, playing with older brother Siku.

Nuno and her twin brother Nanu were born in Kolind in 2012 to the late Ilka and the late Nanook. These new cubs have cousins in the US, for Nuno's grandmother CW was born in the Memphis Zoo, and her grandmother Blanche is sister to Crystal of Toledo Ohio.

Boris / Ivan in Copenhagen

Boris/Ivan was born in 2005 in the Moscow Zoo to the late Murma and the late Untai, so he is brother to Raspi, Gota, and Kap, among others.  He is officially named Boris, but was given the name Ivan by the Danish zoos.

Asahikawa Japan 

Pirika and Hokuto (Ludvik) in Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa Japan had triplets on December 13, but as is so often the case, only one survived, but it is doing well. 

Pirika was born in 2005, the daughter of Lara and Denali. Pirika is first cousin of five US bears, as her father Denali was born in Salt Lake City and is the brother of the late Anana (mother of Luna) and the late Aurora (mother of Lee, Anana, Haley and Anoki).

Hokuto was born in Moscow in 2000, son of Amderma and Yukon, brother of Gogo. He has lived in Japan most of his life. 

HWP in Scotland 

Victoria and Arktos in Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland have had another cub. The birth was announced on December 16, but had taken place a few days before. They are parents of Wee Hamish, born in 2017 and now living in Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Victoria is also the mother of Milak, born in Aalborg Denmark in 2008 and now living in St. Felicien in Canada.

Victoria in Aalborg
Victoria was born in 1996 in Rostock, Germany, one of the "V" cubs born to Churchill and Vienna. She lived in Aalborg, Denmark, for many years before coming to Scotland in 2015.

Victoria with Wee Hamish in 2018 in Scotland

Arktos was born in 2007 in Vienna to Olinka and Eric. He lived in Hannover Germany for several years, then came to Highland Wildlife Park in 2012, where he lives most of the year with his best friend Walker.  Arktos' grandfather Omaha was born in the Henry Doorly Zoo to Olaf and Olga, so this cub has cousins in the US. 

Arktos (his friend Walker in background) in HWP

As we all know, polar bear cubs have a 50 percent chance of survival, for they are born so very fragile. So there were some losses, in addition to two of the triplets in Japan who did not make it. Raspi and Friida in Tallinn Estonia had cubs that did not survive. Lara and Bill in Gelsenkirchen Germany lost their twins too. 

No cubs were born in the US, unless Crystal in Toledo surprises us. Reports are that she is still denned up.

No cubs were born in Russia this year, but there have been some rescued cubs recently.

There is seldom any news about polar bears out of China.

Bear Conservation lists 310 polar bears in captivity, which includes at least some of the eight cubs in this story. 

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Blizzard gone too soon


Blizzard's signature smile

Zoo Karlsruhe in Germany has announced the death of Blizzard, their 15 year old male polar bear. He was discovered dead in the indoor facility yesterday.

Viktoria and Blizzard

It was recently discovered that Blizzard's kidney values were very poor. He had been examined for a minor leg injury, and routine blood tests revealed Blizzard's kidney failure. Animals can be very good at hiding health problems.

Blizzard and his reflection

Blizzard was born December 16, 2006, in Pistoia Italy, in a zoo that no longer keeps polar bears. His father was the late Yoghi, and his mother was Yoghi's mother Bimba. The family tree is rather twisted, as Yoghi's father Romeo was also Bimba's father. Romeo was an American bear, born in Colorado Springs.

Blizzard top, finding treats smeared on the walls by the keepers

Blizzard lived in Pistoia until he was four years old, then moved to Rostock for several years, where he had a lovely time hanging out with old Mother Vienna. In 2012, he moved to Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg, where he lived with Fanny's daughter Viktoria until May of 2020, when he moved to Karlsruhe, where he lived with young Charlotte, Flocke's sister.

Blizzard chasing Viktoria

Blizzard, like his father Yoghi, was a laid back, friendly and gentle bear. He seemed to like to stick his tongue out, more than the average polar bear, and was sometimes a bit silly. He always got along well with his lady companions.

Blizzard was a happy bear

Blizzard's father Yoghi also died fairly young of kidney failure. 

Blizzard never had any cubs, but he did have siblings fathered by Yoghi. He was half brother to twins Nela and Nobby, and also to Quintana. Nela now lives in Emmen in the Netherlands, Nobby lives in Yorkshire Wildlife Park in the UK, and Quintana lives in Zoo La Fleche in France. 

Viktoria in front, and here comes Blizzard

I visited Blizzard several times in Hagenbeck, where he lived a lazy, content and life with Viktoria. 

It is sad to lose him at such a young age. I will miss him. 

Blizzard up top in Hagenbeck

Farewell Blizzard.