Image: © Roy Lewis/Detroit Zoo

Detroit Zoo Polar Bear Cubs Find New Home


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


May 17, 2023 9:25 pm


Nashville Zoo, Tennessee, The United States

Twin polar bear cubs, Astra and Laerke will make the move from their birth place at Detroit Zoo to the Point Defiance Zoo in Spring 2023. Their move has been recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) polar bear population experts.

“We are saddened Laerke and Astra will be leaving us, but the Detroit Zoo is so proud to have played a role that influenced how these two cubs grew up,” said Betsie Meister, associate curator of mammals for the DZS. “With that said, we know they are going to a great home at Point Defiance Zoo, another outstanding, AZA-accredited facility, and we are confident they will thrive in their new environment.”

Astra and Laerke were born on Nov. 17, 2020, to mother Suka and father Nuka. Unfortunately two days after the birth occurred Laerke suffered a medical emergency which required her to be separated from her mother and sister. This left her weak and required constant care from the animal care team at the Detroit Zoo.

For over two years the cubs remained apart before they were reunited in spring 2022 at the Detroit Zoo's Arctic Ring of Life habitat. Now the pair are considered inseparable spending their time playing and roaming in their habitat. The cubs are now at the age where they would naturally move away from their mother meaning this move will mimic the natural behaviour of this species.

“Astra and Laerke are high-energy, playful bears who each have an incredible story,” added Malia Somerville, interim general curator for Point Defiance Zoo. “Our animal care and veterinary teams have decades of experience caring for polar bears, and we are looking forward to introducing the sisters to our community here in Tacoma – where we will help them grow in their new home.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium have an 80 year history of caring for polar bears. Like Detroit Zoo they are certified by Polar Bears International as an Arctic Ambassador Center. The last polar bear to live at Point Defiance Zoo, Blizzard was diagnosed with liver cancer and humanely euthanized during May 2022. Since then the zoo have undertaken preparations to house new bears.

“We know Astra and Laerke will be warmly welcomed to Point Defiance Zoo,” Somerville said. “Our guests, staff and volunteers have been eager to see polar bears return, as they have always inspired our community to take action in their own lives to reduce their carbon footprint and help protect polar bears in the wild. Polar bears need sea ice to survive, but the seasonal ice they depend on is shrinking due to climate warming.”

Polar Bear Cubs to move Detroit Zoo

Image: © Patti Truesdell/ Detroit Zoo

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Image: © Patti Truesdell/ Detroit Zoo

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