Valentine’s Day Brings New Polar Bear to Brookfield Zoo
This Valentine’s Day, Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) staff are anticipating a love connection in the near future as they welcome Nan, a female polar bear and hopeful breeding partner to Hudson, a male polar bear who was born at Brookfield Zoo in 2006.
Nan arrived at Brookfield Zoo earlier this month after spending the last 16 years at Toledo Zoo in Ohio. Now, at approximately 21 years of age, she will spend the month of love becoming acclimated to Hudson at her new home at the zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness habitat. In the coming weeks, a mesh barrier separating the two bears in their behind-the-scenes area will give them the opportunity to see, smell, and get to know one another. Staff are planning to officially introduce Nan and Hudson in the same habitat on Monday, February 27—International Polar Bear Day.
Orphan Bear in Alaska
Nan, short for the Inupiaq word Nanutaaq, which means young of a bear, was orphaned and discovered under a house in Barrow, Alaska. After wildlife authorities determined she was too young to survive in the wild on her own, Nan was placed under human care at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington, where she resided for nearly five years before being transferred to Toledo.
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, so CZS has been working closely with Toledo Zoo and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help recover from population losses.
“This move is a part of the AZA’s Polar Bear Species Survival Plan, which 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,” said Amy Roberts, the zoo’s curator of mammals. “As a wild-born bear, Nan is genetically valuable to the North American zoo population accredited by AZA.”
According to researchers, there are approximately 26,000 polar bears living worldwide today, including in and around Canada, Russian, and east Greenland.