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A Pair of Polar Bear Cubs are Born at the Detroit Zoo

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: January 30, 2021 3:15 pm

polar bear cub detroit

A gentoo penguin chick during a daily check at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Photo Credit: Detroit Zoo

A precious pair of polar bear cubs have been born at the Detroit Zoo. Arriving on November 17th 2020 the cubs are yet to be named. They are the first polar bears raised at the Detroit Zoo since 2004.

8 year old mother, Suka gave birth in a specially designed, private maternity den away from the other bears. The father is 16 year old Nuka.

polar bear cub detroit

A gentoo penguin chick with its parent at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Photo Credit: Detroit Zoo

The den in which Suka gave birth is equipped with an infrared video camera which keepers have been using to monitor the cubs without disturbing them. Unfortunately on November 19th 2020 keepers observed that one of the cubs had become inactive and appeared weak. Keepers decided it was necessary to remove the cub from mom to provide care to it.

This cub is a female and was brought to the Detroit Zoo’s Ruth Roby Glancy Animal Health Complex where she was examined by veterinarians and given fluids and formula. Since then she has been receiving around-the-clock care and bottle feeding.

At birth polar bear cubs are remarkably small weighing just 560g (1.2lbs) compared to their mother who weighs in at 377kg (830lbs). When she was taken from the den the female cub weighed 556g (1.2lbs) but with care has grown to 5.12kg (11.3lbs).

The cub has now graduated from the incubator in which she originally lived in to a "playpen." Eventually she will move back to the Detroit Zoo's Arctic Ring of Life habitat. It is currently unknown if it will be possible to reunite her with her mother and sibling.

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Keepers are also continuing to monitor and care for Suka and her cub. Suka has proven to be a very attentive mom who will continuously nurse, groom and cuddle her cub.

Currently both the cubs are being cared for in private, behind-the-scenes areas. Guests visiting the Detroit Zoo can see father Nuka and 20-year-old female Anana in the Artic Ring of Life's habitats.

This birth is incredibly exciting as it follows unsuccessful attempts by Suka to raise cubs in 2018 and 2019. They also help to increase the population of these endangered animals within the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Polar Bear Species Survival Plan. Currently 56 polar bears live in 25 AZA accredited zoos.

polar bear cub detroit
polar bear cub detroit

A gentoo penguin egg begins to hatch at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Photo Credit: Detroit Zoo

The rare occurrence of twin polar bear cubs being raised separately will provide many insights in to polar bears cubs. Both cubs are being monitored with their milestones tracked. Since birth their eyes have opened, their teeth are coming in and they are learning to take their first steps.

In the wild polar bears can be found in the United States, Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway. Their numbers are being reduced through a loss of sea ice which they rely on for hunting, breeding and denning.

At Detroit Zoo the polar bears live in one of the United States largest polar bear habitats, The Arctic Ring of Life. This area has a grassy tundra, a freshwater pool and a 190,000-gallon salt water pool. 

The entire facility includes 4 acres (1.6ha) of indoor and outdoor habitats.

polar bear cub detroit

A gentoo penguin chick with its parent at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

Photo Credit: Detroit Zoo

Learn more about polar bears here – Polar Bear Fact File | The Animal Facts


Learn more about the Detroit Zoo on their website – Detroit Zoo

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