SALT LAKE CITY / PORTLAND / TOLEDO (May 24) – Utah’s Hogle Zoo is excited to announce the addition of not one, but TWO polar bears making their way to Salt Lake City this fall!
Meet Nora and Hope – two unrelated polar bears, both roughly 1 1/2 years old, who will soon swim together in Rocky Shores. This after the Zoo lost beloved polar bear, Rizzo, to kidney failure, in April. “Saving polar bears is a huge commitment our Zoo is making,” said Liz Larsen, Director of Conservation. “We’re so excited that we have this opportunity to demonstrate our leadership in polar bear conservation with these cubs.”
1 1/2 year-old Nora, from Oregon Zoo
1 1/2 year-old Hope, from Toledo Zoo
Nora was born at Columbus Zoo Nov. 6, 2015. Her mother began leaving her unattended in the den for prolonged periods of time. Keepers made the difficult decision to hand-rear the tiny cub. She was sent to Oregon Zoo last September, in the hopes she might be mentored by a senior bear. “For a young bear that was hand-raised, the companionship of another bear is so important for developing socials skills,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the Oregon Zoo’s marine life area. Sadly, Oregon Zoo lost their senior bear shortly after Nora arrived.
“From the time she was a week old, Nora has interacted almost exclusively with people,” Cutting said. “Hope should be a great companion for her. The two bears were born less than a month apart and they have a similar youthful energy.”
Nora has already achieved worldwide fame as a video of her playing in a pool of ice reached nearly 50 million views on Oregon Zoo’s Facebook page.
Hope, named after Point Hope, Alaska, as well as a nod to the optimism for the future of the endangered species, was born at Toledo Zoo on December 3, 2015. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended Hope’s transfer this fall. The SSP prioritizes putting young animals together at the point where they are mature enough to leave their mothers. In the wild, young bears separate from their mothers around age two and may band together to survive the harsh conditions in the Arctic.
“In her almost two years, Hope has been a great ambassador for her endangered species and become much beloved by the Toledo Zoo community,” said Shayla Moriarty, Toledo Zoo’s director of communication.
Hope with mom, Crystal
The polar bear is among Hogle Zoo’s Big 6 Conservation Species – six species receiving the focus of the Zoo’s conservation efforts. “As one of our signature programs we concentrate our financial and staffing resources to try to save this particular species,” said Liz Larsen. “Our leadership in the zoo community toward conservation has helped secure us as a flagship institution for such a high profile species as polar bears.”Hogle Zoo has a long history of caring for polar bears – offering a home to the species from 1957 – 2003, during which time Hogle Zoo produced 10 offspring. The opening of Rocky Shores, in 2012, saw the much anticipated return of the polar bear after a nine year absence. Designed to be a long-term breeding and conservation facility Hogle Zoo hopes to contribute to the study and science of polar bears for years to come.
Hogle Zoo will send Rocky Shores keepers to each sister zoo to spend time with both bears before they transfer to Salt Lake. Keepers from Oregon and Toledo will also make the trek to Hogle Zoo to ensure a smooth transition.
VIDEO LINK OF NORA: B-roll, courtesy Oregon Zoo (early parts courtesy of the Columbus Zoo):
VIDEO LINK OF HOPE: B-roll, courtesy Toledo Zoo