Currently Nuka and Crystal are being kept separate, and only Crystal was out on the day I visited, Nuka has his days in the public eye too and the Toledo Zoo has large areas in the back, so whichever bear is not in the public enclosure has plenty of space.
The plan is for Nuka to return to the Detroit Zoo when Astra, the twin being raised by her mother, is weaned, and the two young girl cubs can be introduced. Then Nuka could be brought back to live with Suka in the coming months. After the twin girls are reunited, they may move to another zoo together.
|Nuka's twin daughters, Astra (back) and Laerke, in October of
last year. They are also granddaughters of Crystal.
Crystal is an immigrant bear. She was born in Monde Sauvage, Aywaille, Belgium on November 10, 1998 to parents Saskia and Orca Also in Monde Sauvage was Crystal's five year old sister Blanche, who still lives there.
When Crystal was about a year and a half old, she was flown across the Atlantic Ocean to Toledo, Ohio, where there was a beautiful new polar bear habitat with a saltwater pool, the Arctic Encounter. Awaiting her arrival was a young male bear, born in Brookfield Zoo in 1996, named Marty. The next year, another female, wildborn Nan, born in 1994, arrived.
|Nan in 2014 Toledo Zoo
|Siku and his mom Crystal in 2010.
|Crystal nursing Sakari and Suka in 2013.
|Crystal with her twins Sakari and Suka in 2013.
|Crystal and daughter Hope in 2016
|Crystal nursing Baby Borealis in 2019
Will there be another cub born at the end of 2022? Crystal isn't telling.
Crystal also has 7 grandchildren. Aurora in Columbus is the mother of Nora (now in Oregon Zoo), twins Nuniq (now in KC) and Neva (now in Hogle Zoo), and Kulu (now in Como Zoo). Anana is mom to Amelia Gray (now in Oregon Zoo).
|Aurora with youngest cub Kulu in 2020 in Columbus.
Suka in Detroit is mother to twins, almost two years old, Astra and Laerke.
|Suka with one of her twins, Astra, in Detroit last week.
Crystal's longtime companion Nan has moved on from the Toledo Zoo too, and is living in Como Zoo in St. Paul, with Crystal's son Kulu, and another older bear, Neil.
|Nan, left, looking out for Crystal's grandson Kulu,
in Como Zoo, St. Paul, in April of 2022
Sisters Aurora and Anana, who have no male bear with them currently in Columbus, underwent Artificial Insemination last March, and Aurora has already denned up. Polar Bear AI has not been successful so far, so this would be a first if she does give birth.
|Aurora and Anana in Columbus in 2011.
And what of Crystal's relatives in Belgium? Her sister Blanche will turn 29 years old in December. Blanche lives with her daughter Qannik, who is almost 12 in Monde Sauvage. This year, a male bear named Nanuk (son of Cora of Zoo Brno) arrived from the Mykolaiv Zoo in Ukraine, shortly before the war broke out there. Nanuk's previous mate Zefirka and their daughter Smetanka are still in that warzone zoo, and we all think hopeful thoughts for these two bears.
Crystal's sister Blanche is also mother of 21 year old Nanok, of Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Denmark, where he fathered Danish Siku, born in 2011 and handraised, and also twins Nuno and Nanu, born in 2012. Nuno is a new mother of twins born this last winter in Skandinavisk Dyrepark. Nanu lives in France. Siku still lives with his father in Denmark.
|Nanok of Denmark, son of Crystal's sister Blanche,
first cousin of Crystal's children.
|Danish Siku is one year older than twins Nuno and Nanu in Skandinavisk Dyrepark in Denmark. They are grandchildren of Crystal's sister Blanche, and first cousins, once removed, of Crystal's American children.