First polar bear cubs since 2004 born and raised since November at Detroit Zoo

The Detroit News
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For the first time in 16 years, a polar bear cub is growing up at the Detroit Zoo.

Better yet, it’s not just one cub but two.

One of the polar bear cubs born at the Detroit Zoo in November.

The proud mama is Suka, whose past progeny failed to live more than a few days in 2018 and 2019, said the zoo.

Her latest cubs, which were born Nov. 17, are continuing to grow, although one is being cared for by the zoo staff.

One of the polar bear cubs born at the Detroit Zoo in November.

The struggling cub, which is female, was weak and inactive two days after the birth, said the zoo.

She was examined by veterinarians and given fluids and formula. Since then, she has received around-the-clock care and bottle feeding.

One of the polar bear cubs born at the Detroit Zoo on Nov. 17, 2020.
One of the polar bear cubs born at the Detroit Zoo on Nov. 17, 2020.

The cub, who weighed 1.2 pounds at two days old, now weighs 11.3 pounds, said the zoo. She has left the zoo’s incubator and will eventually return to the Arctic Ring of Life habitat, one of the largest for zoo polar bears in the world, according to the zoo. It features a grassy tundra, a freshwater pool, a "pack ice" area and a 190,000-gallon salt water pool.

It isn’t known yet whether she will be able to reunite with her mother and sibling. If she can’t, she will live with other bears.

Meanwhile, Suka, who is 8 years old, remains a very attentive mom to her other cub, said the zoo. She continuously nurses, grooms and cuddles with the cub.

The cubs, who haven’t been named yet, aren’t yet viewable to zoo visitors. But their dad, Nuka, who is 16, and Anana, who is 20, are on display at the zoo.

Mom Suka with one of the cubs. The polar bear cubs were born at the Detroit Zoo on Nov. 17.

At birth, cubs weigh about 1.2 pounds compared with 830 pounds for the mother.

The fact the twins are being raised separately, one by mama bear and one by humans, will give the zoo a rare chance to learn from the experience, said officials.

Staff is monitoring both cubs closely, tracking their developmental milestones. At this point, both cubs’ eyes are open, their teeth are coming in and they’re learning to take their first steps.

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