Polar Bear Cub Born
The Toledo Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a polar bear cub on Thursday, December 3. Eleven-year-old mother Crystal is caring for the cub in a den area off-exhibit, and the Zoo's animal care staff is continuously monitoring the cub's progress. The cub was one of two born that day; the other cub only survived for a few days.
Polar bears care for their young in the seclusion of their dens, and animal care staff has been monitoring Crystal and the cub's progress remotely on video camera. According to the Zoo's veterinary staff an umbilical problem appears to be reason that the other cub did not survive.
Zoo officials have good reason to be cautiously optimistic about the future well-being of the surviving cub. In November 2006, Crystal gave birth to twins Anana and Aurora and the Zoo is hopeful that she will demonstrate the same excellent maternal behaviors as a second-time mother that she did throughout her previous experience. Thirteen-year-old father Marty can be seen in the Arctic Encounter® exhibit, and if the cub's rearing goes well, he or she may also be on exhibit in the spring.
The Zoo's Curator of Mammals, Dr. Randi Meyerson, is the coordinator for the polar bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. According to her, there have been very few successful polar bear births in the past five years, and that cub mortality in zoo environments is approximately 50%. In certain wild populations cub mortality has risen to around 63%. The breeding of Crystal and Marty was recommended by the SSP to ensure a healthy zoo population.
Because of the probable impact that climate change will have for Arctic populations, polar bears are protected under the Endangered Species Act, and this underscores the need for preservation of the species through the SSP. As Dr. Anne Baker, The Toledo Zoo's Executive Director, states, "As the number of polar bears in the wild decreases, it's more important than ever that cubs in zoo settings serve as ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild. Truly, every cub counts, and we hope that this cub will have the chance to inspire our visitors to join us in caring for polar bears and their environment."
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