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Maryland Zoo Polar Bears Ready to Move

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: October 5, 2021 2:30 pm

Polar Bear Maryland Zoo

Neva the polar bear in her habitat the at Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Photo Credit: The Maryland Zoo

Maryland Zoo will be without polar bears for the foreseeable future as their two resident bears, Neva and Amelia Gray will move to new homes. The two are packing their bags as part of the breeding program for polar bears in North American zoos.

Neva and Amelia Gray have called Maryland Zoo home since 2018 when they moved from Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. They are half-sisters.

“At the time Neva and Amelia Gray came to the Zoo, they were almost two-years-old. We knew that at some point as they matured, they would eventually move to other zoos to continue their growth as adult bears,” stated Mike McClure, general curator at the Maryland Zoo. 

“These two are now almost 5-years-old and at a critical development stage in their lives. After consultation with the leadership of the Polar Bear SSP and other polar bear management experts, we have made the decision to move Neva and Amelia Gray to other zoos to offer them opportunities to further enhance their growth and development into fully mature adult bears in new ways.”

With the move of the two bears the Maryland Zoo will be without polar bears. The Polar Bear Watch habitat will instead be solely used for grizzly bears Nova and Nita.

Polar Bear Maryland Zoo

Amelia Gray the polar bear in her habitat the at Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Photo Credit: The Maryland Zoo

Amelia Gray is set to move east to the Oregon Zoo in Portland. As a bear who is naturally more cautious of her surroundings she will not be breeding just yet. Instead she will act as a companion for her half-sister Nora.

“Amelia Gray is more cautious of her surroundings and needs more time to assess all of the input she receives from her environment,” said McClure.

“She also seems to do well having time alone to help her decompress from lots of stimulus. Oregon's new Polar Passage habitat has several different areas and will be able to provide her with her own space as needed and opportunities for continued socialization.” 

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Neva is making the move to as an yet unannounced accredited zoo. Her she will be paired with a male bear to breed.

“Neva has experience being around a male since she had a brother to compete with who was almost twice her size, and she is more assertive in her behavior,” continued McClure. 

“Neva tends to solicit interaction from Amelia and we felt she would be more comfortable engaging with a male which would likely lead to more successful breeding.” Both zoos have a great history with polar bears and staff dedicated to their health and well-being."

Polar Bear Maryland Zoo

Neva the polar bear in her habitat the at Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Photo Credit: The Maryland Zoo

As the two bears prepare for their move there will be times when the two bears are off display.

Once they depart their space will be used to increase the welfare or orphaned grizzly bears Nova and Nita. “The agreement to provide lifelong care for the grizzlies was just one more factor in our decision to move Neva and Amelia Gray,” added Mclure.

"The two bear species would not normally share the same territories in the wild and they do not share the same space here at the Zoo, but are able to see, hear and smell one another. Polar bears are highly attuned to the smells and sounds of everything going on in and around their habitat. Our observations have shown that at times it appears that the loud play behaviors of the grizzlies or simply their proximity may contribute to the polar bears becoming restless as they mature and seek more space to roam and explore,” McClure explained.

“We remain committed to the survival of polar bears in the world and to helping to address the challenges that climate change poses to these amazing animals,” stated McClure. “For now though, our future plan is to utilize the whole habitat for Nova and Nita as we evaluate our next steps with polar bears,” he finished.

Polar Bear Maryland Zoo

Neva (left) and Amelia Gray (Right) play in the water at the Maryland Zoo

Photo Credit: The Maryland Zoo

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

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

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