Friday, November 17, 2023

The Toledo twins at one year

A little watermelon for the cubs

Kallu and Kallik clean up after the party

Kallik and Kallu, twin sons of Crystal and Nuka, were treated to a grand birthday party on November 11 in honor of their first birthday. Mom Crystal turned 25 the previous day, and she was included in the festivities of course.

The cakes before the bears came roaring in. 

Watermelon is the recent favorite treat.

Three bears and a play spool. 

The keepers had built three "birthday cakes" made of watermelon, lettuce, lard and a carrot on top for a candle, each sitting on a block that had been labeled for each bear. Kallik and Kallu's boxes included their nicknames, Lightning and Thunder.  

Some of the birthday cards made by the children.

A good crowd of fans turned out for the party, including many children, and many made cards for the birthday boys. Since the zoo has shown the growth of the cubs since birth on a public webcam, many have followed K and K since those early days, and they have many fans.

Crystal in back, and one of the cubs, probably Kallu,
 who likes to be near mom.

The bears cannot read, or at least did not bother to check the writings, so just went to the nearest cake, and after that, just traded off. 

The birthday party for Crystal and her cubs.

The keepers told me that once a year, they try out different produce for the bears to see if their tastes have changed. Even though these foods are not available in the wild where the bears live in nature, zoos have found that polar bears really love their fruits and vegetables when they can get them. Right now, the Toledo bears prefer watermelon. 

Crystal is also very fond of seaweed, so there were balls of seaweed for her.
Yummy seaweed for Crystal

Some fish were also given to the bears as part of the birthday feast.

Kallu with some of the fish treats.

Kallik was much smaller when he was born, maybe half the size of his brother, but he has caught up since then, and now his weight is reported at 320 to 340 pounds. Kallu, the bigger cub, weighs 340 to 360 pounds.

When they were younger, it was easier to tell Kallik from his bigger brother, but now they are nearly the same size. How to tell them apart? Kallu has a longer tail, and there is less fur on his tail so the black skin shows through. Kallu sometimes has a spot on his forehead too. 

Because Kallu has less fur on his tail,
 there seems to be a black streak. One way to tell them apart.

During their first year, Kallu has tended to stay near his mother, while the smaller Kallik has been more independent. But on Saturday, while the boys did play together in the water for a bit, and Kallu tended to check in with his mother quite often, mostly they were off on their own, each doing their own thing, after consuming most of the birthday treats, leaving Crystal to do as she wished, sometimes napping, sometimes just watching the boys play.

Kallu plays with the pickle lid, and Crystal check in.

Kallu and Kallik both love playing with the black plastic pickle lids, hiding them, flipping them around, tossing them in the air. 

Kallik plays with the floating iceberg, and Crystal observes.

Kallik played quite a bit with the "new" floating iceberg, which was brought out for their birthday. But he would incorporate his lid in the play. 

Kallik having a blast with the new iceberg.

Kallik and Kallu's father, Nuka, returned to the Detroit Zoo last spring, and now Suka, who is also Crystal's daughter, is said to be denned up and awaiting the birth of cubs again. Suka gave birth three years ago to twin girls, and one was raised by keepers. These girls now live in the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington.  

Most likely, Nuka will not return to Toledo, since Crystal is 25 years old and her genes are so well represented, Kallik and Kallu will most likely be her last cubs. She is already mother to nine bears, which includes three sets of twins.

As the birthday morning wore on, the cubs enjoyed playing together in the water.

Sort of Synchronized Swimming.

Playing together but not really together.

Maybe something fun over here?

Time to get up and check out the party leftovers.

Someone caught a fish!
It was part of the party treats laid out.
Kallu was carrying them about.

The black plastic lids were big hit. Great for tossing, and the perfect size to carry around.

Kallu is obsessed with the black plastic lids.
He hides them and then digs them out again.

Kallu balances, then flips it into the air.

Kallik likes the lids too.

Back to the party room to clean up. There are a few bits and pieces and the cubs rub their faces on the paint from the signs.

Kallu got a third eyebrow with the paint. Here he is with Crystal. 

Kallu's new fashion make-up.

Crystal and Kallu

Kallik with some fish.

Kallik got the most paint on his little face.
 A little yellow and lots of black.
 It all came off after he jumped into the pool a few minutes later.
 Cute while it lasted.

Kallik likes the spool.

Kallu with the spool. See the black stripe on his tail?

Happy First Birthday to our little Arctic cubs. This is Kallu.

And another surprise is coming this week, a belated birthday gift. They will surely adore playing with their new giant pickles, sent by their fans in Polar Pals.