Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak Welcomes 19-Year-Old Polar Bear

Anana, a 19-year-old female polar bear, has joined the Detroit Zoo from the Cincinnati Zoo as part of a breeding and species survival program. Photo courtesy of the Detroit Zoological Society

The Detroit Zoological Society has welcomed 19-year-old Anana to the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak. The female polar bear who came from the Cincinnati Zoo joins 15-year-old male Nuka and 7-year-old female Suka in the Arctic Ring of Life, a polar bear habitat.

The Arctic Ring of Life encompass more than four acres of outdoor and indoor spaces. One of their features is the 70-foot-long Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, a clear tunnel that winds through an underwater marine environment.

Anana arrived at the Detroit Zoo on a breeding recommendation from the Associate of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Program. These programs are cooperative management plans to ensure genetically healthy, diverse, and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species in AZA-accredited zoos. Polar bear breeding season takes place in early spring, and after an eight-month gestation period, one or two cubs are born.

“Anana is exploring the tundra in the Arctic Ring of Life and very quickly acclimating to her new home here at the Detroit Zoo,” says Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society. “We’re very happy she’s here to join Nuka and Suka and invite everyone to come welcome her on International Polar Bear Day … Nuka and Anana appear curious and interested, which is a good sign. We’re optimistic for future breeding and carefully watching how their relationship develops.”

International Polar Bear day is on Thursday, Feb. 27. The event will highlight conversations concerning the species. It will include zookeeper talks and educational activities from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Polar bears will receive treats in their habitat at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. The animal care staff will share information about the personalities and behaviors of the polar bears after each feeding.

The event will include education stations. Handheld microscopes are provided for guests to have an up-close look at the fur of a polar bear. “Blubber gloves” will demonstrate how blubber serves as insulation for the mammals, keeping them warm despite a cold climate. Children also will have the opportunity to compare themselves to a life-sized polar bear cut-out in the Nunavut Gallery.

“Our hope is that the million-plus people who visit the Detroit Zoo each year leave here with a greater understanding of the issues facing polar bears in the wild and the knowledge that all of us can do something to help save these animals and their fragile arctic habitat,” says Carter.

The Detroit Zoological Society is a leader in humane education, wildlife conservation, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability. It operates the Detroit Zoo and the Belle Isle Nature Center. It has an annual regional economic impact of more than $167 million, and the zoo hosts more than 1.3 million visitors annually. Its 125 acres of award-winning naturalistic habitats are home to 2,400 animals representing 235 species.

Written by Morris Johnson for dBusiness magazine.