Featured Image Credit: Ansgar Walk
By Sarah Sharkey
The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden are hopeful that their polar bears will welcome a new cub soon. The zoo had not welcomed a new cub in over 25 years, so they were extremely excited when Anana, a 16-year-old female, moved into their polar bear habitat.
Little One, a 28-year-old male, was a long time resident of the exhibit when Anana arrived in 2016. Although there were high hopes that year, the two bears never came within 10 feet of each other during the breeding season.
The staff at the zoo was disappointed but decided to make some adjustments to the habitat. These adjustments made Anana feel more comfortable, which lead to the two bears taking their relationship to the next level. It is hoped that a cub will be born sometime this year from their union. It is hard to tell if a polar bear is pregnant, but it will become apparent closer to the time.
Polar bears in captivity are an extremely important source of genetic diversity. As wild populations dwindle due to climate change and human disturbances, the polar bears in captivity will become increasingly important to conservationists. By allowing bears to breed and produce offspring, this zoo is helping to ensure the long-term genetic viability of the species.
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