By Laura O’Brien
For Nora the polar bear, life has not always been easy. She was born in Columbus, Ohio; where her mom abandoned her shortly after she was born. Zookeepers stepped in and raised the polar bear by hand, but the young polar bear needed to build relationships with her own kind. Later she was moved to the Oregon Zoo so that she could bond with an older polar bear. Amy Cutting, the overseer of Oregon Zoo’s wildlife noted, “for a young bear that was hand-raised, the companionship of another bear is so important for developing social skills”. Unfortunately, Nora’s relationship with her new mentor was cut short when the older bear died. This is when the search for Nora’s new companion began.
A polar bear named Hope appeared to be a great candidate; so she was transferred to Salt Lake City, where she was to become Nora’s new playmate and mentor. Hope was also raised in captivity, however, she was not abandoned like Nora; so her mom showed her the ropes before Hope was transferred. The two polar bears arrived at Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City after the death of Hogle’s former polar bear, Rizzo. The zoo is hopeful that Nora and Hope will be a good match for one another, and so far this appears to be the case. The Hogle Zoo spokeswoman, Erica Hansen, explained that Nora has a metabolic bone disease that stunted her growth, and could have been the reason that her mother abandoned her.
Hope doesn’t mind, though! The bears have a difference of about 180 pounds, but their zookeeper believes that so far their introduction has gone even better than expected. Their zookeeper, Joanne Randinitis, said, “both bears are eating a lot and playing with their toys. They’re both resting on opposite ends of the exhibit. They both initiate approaching each other and retreating, so neither one is overpowering the other. It’s just been great”. Despite concerns that Nora would not know what to make of another polar bear, she has adapted well. The playful polar bear may have finally found a lasting friendship.
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