News Release

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
March 2, 2017
Note: Images of Nan and Hudson at Brookfield Zoo may be downloaded below.
Nan and Hudson 1
Nan and Hudson 2
Nan and Hudson 3

Introduction Between Polar Bears Going Well at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill. –The anticipation is over at Brookfield Zoo. Nan, a 21-year-old polar bear who arrived at the zoo in early February, and Hudson, the zoo’s 11-year-old male polar bear, were introduced to one another.

Over the past few weeks, Nan has been getting acclimated to her new habitat while having the opportunity to get to know Hudson through a mesh barrier behind the scenes at the zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness.

“When the bears were given access to one another in the same habitat, it was obvious that Nan is the one in charge, which is what we want to see,” said Amy Roberts, curator of mammals. “The female is the one who guides the relationship. Hudson has been doing everything right so far in letting Nan take the lead while allowing her to become more familiar with him.” Early on in the introductions, zoogoers may see the two bears engaged in open-mouth displays, roaring, or even chuffing (rapid jaw movement). This is normal behavior when two bears are getting to know one another. From the positive behaviors that staff have witnessed between the two bears, Nan and Hudson should be spending the next several months together. During the introduction process, the bears will have access to both their indoor and outdoor areas.

In the wild, polar bears are solitary except during the breeding season and when females are raising their cubs. In early fall, the two bears will be separated. At that time, Nan will be given access to a den behind the scenes in the chance that she may be pregnant. The maternity den area at Great Bear Wilderness was specifically designed in the shape and dimensions of actual dens in the wild. If she does give birth, the area is equipped with cameras outside to allow animal care staff to observe the mom and cub(s) without disturbing them.

Nan was brought to Brookfield Zoo from Toledo Zoo based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP manages the breeding of species such as polar bears to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Nan was orphaned and discovered under a house in Barrow, Alaska. After wildlife authorities determined she was too young to survive on her own in the wild, she was placed under human care.  As a wild-born bear, Nan is genetically valuable to the North American population in zoos accredited by AZA.

Polar bears are currently listed as a vulnerable species, and conservation actions are considered necessary for their survival, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species population is declining due to sea-ice loss attributed to climate change and other environmental factors. According to researchers, there are approximately 26,000 polar bears living worldwide today, including in and around Canada, Russian, and east Greenland.

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About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by connecting people with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and is also accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, CTA, and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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