|A young Anana, in 2011.
She was so young, just short of her 16th birthday. Anana of the Columbus Zoo is gone now.
Anana and her twin sister Aurora were born at the Toledo Zoo on November 25, 2006, to Belgian born Crystal, and Chicago born Marty. They were the first cubs from this prolific pair, who went on to give us Siku, twins Suka and Sakari, Hope and Borealis (Bo).
Since her mother Crystal was born in Belgium, Anana also had many cousins in Europe.
|Aurora on the left, Anana with the barrel.
|Anana, playing in the water.
As young cubs, they spent a year in Pittsburgh, then moved into the brand new gorgeous polar bear habitat, the Polar Frontier, in the Columbus Zoo, which opened in the Spring of 2010.
To tell the girls apart, keepers started putting some dark paint on Aurora's paw.
|Anana walking, and twin sister Aurora sitting.
|Anana loved her blue barrels.
|Anana behind, Aurora on right.
In the summer of 2012, handsome wildborn Nanuq arrived and wooed both sisters. Aurora gave birth to Nora in 2015, and the next year, Aurora had twins, Nuniq and Neva, and Anana gave birth to Amelia Gray. Sadly, Nanuq passed away from the illnesses of old age in 2017.
|It all changed when Nanuq, in center, arrived. Anana on the left.
Aurora (on the right) has her paw painted.
|Anana as a mom, to cub Amelia Gray.
|Little Amelia Gray and Anana
|Amelia Gray and mom Anana.
|Amelia Gray gives her mom a love bite.
A new male bear, Lee, came along and Aurora gave birth to Kulu in 2019. To make room for the cub, Lee moved to Louisville. When Kulu was old enough, Auntie Anana became very involved in his life, and was the best playmate a cub could wish for.
|Anana with her nephew Kulu.
|Auntie Anana on left, with Kulu (center) and his mother Aurora.
|Anana and her nephew Kulu loved their water battles.
After Kulu left for Como Zoo in Minnesota last fall, it was just the two sisters again. Anana and Aurora.
An Artificial Insemination attempt was made last March for both girls, using the sperm from Lee, who was still living in Louisville. The summer came and went, and everything seemed fine. Aurora, surprisingly enough, decided to den up in September.
|Anana in the underwater viewing area.
All was not well with Anana, however. Some unspecified health problems kept her behind the scenes for the past month, and her health declined rapidly in recent days. She was put to sleep on Wednesday, October 12. We may find out her cause of declining health in a few weeks.
The loss of Anana is a devastating blow to all those who loved her, especially her keepers who have known her for most of her life. Aurora will wonder where her twin sister has gone, but they have been separated before, when one or both were busy with cubs.
It is also a loss for the polar bear breeding program, for Anana was a proven mother, and there was hope for more cubs in the future.
Columbus Zoo has a stunningly beautiful polar bear habitat, and the bears seem to really enjoy the pools, the live fish, all the dead trees on which to climb, the caves. It is so well planned. And for now, there is only Aurora, and the possibility of progeny. If Aurora does indeed give birth, it will be the first time AI has been successful on a polar bear, which has delayed implantation, greatly complicating the process.
|Aurora and Anana, in 2011.
Columbus is close by, and I visited often over the years. I last saw Anana in mid August, and she was just napping in the central area, in the shade of the tunnel, where I have often seen her before. She woke for a moment, looked at me, and I smiled back. I never thought this would be the last time I would see her.
For now, we dwell on the happy memories of watching Anana sunning herself next to her sister, playing with her blue barrels, diving for life fish, swimming happily in the rain, jumping up at the visitors at the window, and playing with her daughter Amelia Gray, and her nephew Kulu. She had a good life, just not nearly long enough.
|My last photo of Anana, taken in mid-August 2022.