Ohio zoo welcomes birth of Thanksgiving Day polar bear cub

Ohio zoo welcomes birth of Thanksgiving Day polar bear cub
Cuddle time! (Source: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Facebook)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A polar bear at an Ohio zoo had something to be very thankful for on Thanksgiving Day: A new cub.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium announced the birth of a polar bear cub that was born on Thanksgiving to parents Aurora and Lee.

Oh Baby!! The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is truly thankful to welcome a new polar bear cub born on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, at 12:43 a.m. to mother Aurora and father, Lee! The Animal Care team notes that Aurora is being an attentive mother to her new cub, who has been observed nursing. As Aurora continues to care for her cub, she and her little one will remain in their private denning area behind the scenes until spring. While Aurora is not new to motherhood, having given birth to Nora (Utah's Hogle Zoo) and twins Neva (The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore) and Nuniq (Henry Vilas Zoo), this is the first cub to be sired by male polar bear, Lee. Lee arrived at the Columbus Zoo from Denver Zoo on November 7, 2018. His move was recommended by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a cooperatively managed program designed to maximize the genetic diversity and increase the population sustainability of threatened and endangered species in human care. Both Aurora and her twin sister, Anana, have been denning for several weeks. The Animal Care team observed Aurora frequently resting in her den leading up to the cub’s birth, while Anana has shown more activity, indicating that she may not be preparing for a birth. Because there are no pregnancy tests for polar bears, the team will continue to monitor Anana’s activity as polar bears can give birth from November to early January. Polar bears have one of the lowest reproductive rates of any mammal due to delayed implantation, during which a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus for several months to ensure the cub is born to the mother at the best time for survival. In 2008, the polar bear became the first species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened primarily due to climate change. Since 2008, the Zoo has contributed more than $250,000 to research benefiting polar bears in the Arctic. The Zoo is also designated as an Arctic Ambassador Center by Polar Bears International (PBI). At the Columbus Zoo, visitors are encouraged to do their part to save this amazing species by turning off lights when leaving a room, minimizing their use of heating and cooling units, and other ways to reduce energy consumption. For more information about this significant birth, visit: bit.ly/2OSF2ma

Posted by Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Friday, November 29, 2019
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Oh Baby! The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is truly thankful to welcome a new polar bear cub born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, at 12:43 a.m. to mother Aurora and father, Lee! The Animal Care team notes that Aurora is being an attentive mother to her new cub, who has been observed nursing. As Aurora continues to care for her cub, she and her little one will remain in their private denning area behind the scenes until spring. While Aurora is not new to motherhood, having given birth to Nora (Utah’s Hogle Zoo) and twins Neva (Maryland Zoo in Baltimore) and Nuniq (Henry Vilas Zoo), this is the first cub to be sired by male polar bear, Lee. Lee arrived at the Columbus Zoo from Denver Zoo on Nov. 7, 2018. His move was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a cooperatively managed program designed to maximize the genetic diversity and increase the population sustainability of threatened and endangered species in human care. Both Aurora and her twin sister, Anana, have been denning for several weeks. The Animal Care team observed Aurora frequently resting in her den leading up to the cub’s birth, while Anana has shown more activity, indicating that she may not be preparing for a birth. Because there are no pregnancy tests for polar bears, the team will continue to monitor Anana’s activity as polar bears can give birth from Nov. to early Jan. Polar bears have one of the lowest reproductive rates of any mammal due to delayed implantation, during which a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus for several months to ensure the cub is born to the mother at the best time for survival. In 2008, the polar bear became the first species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act as threatened primarily due to climate change. Since 2008, the Zoo has contributed more than $250,000 to research benefiting polar bears in the Arctic. The Zoo is also designated as an Arctic Ambassador Center by Polar Bears International (PBI). At the Columbus Zoo, visitors are encouraged to do their part to save this amazing species by reducing energy consumption. For more information about this significant birth, visit: bit.ly/2osf2ma

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The cub is from 13-year-old Aurora’s third litter which consists of three other surviving cubs.

“We are very proud of the continued success of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s polar bear program," said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President and CEO Tom Stalf. “The birth of this polar bear cub is extremely exciting, of course, but the work of our team isn’t over as the survival rate for a delicate cub during its first few weeks is low based on a variety of factors.”

Zoo officials describe polar bear reproduction as being complicated because a fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus until the best time for survival in both the mother and cub. The natural process makes it difficult to tell if a polar bear is actually pregnant.

The polar bear was the first species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act primarily due to climate change in 2008.

Both mother bear and her cub are expected to remain in private denning until spring as the two continue to bond.

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