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Published: 1/22/2013

Twin polar bear cubs to go on exhibit in May

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Siku, a young polar bear cub, plays with his mother Crystal at The Toledo Zoo. Crystal is mom to two twin cubs that will go on display in May. Siku, a young polar bear cub, plays with his mother Crystal at The Toledo Zoo. Crystal is mom to two twin cubs that will go on display in May.
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Twin polar bear cubs recently born at the Toledo Zoo are expected to go on exhibit in May, if all goes as planned.

The cubs, who have yet to be named because their genders have not been identified, were born on Nov. 21. Their mother, Crystal, 13, is caring for them off-exhibit where the zoo’s animal care staff is tracking their progress through a monitor in the den. The monitoring is meant to relieve stress on the mother so she can concentrate on nurturing her babies, zoo officials said.

This is the fourth litter of polar bears the zoo has had since 2006, said Dr. Randi Meyerson, curator of mammals.

The cubs will get their first physical exam when they are between three and four months of age. They will spend the next several months learning to swim and building strength so that they can safely navigate the polar bear exhibit, she said.

The zoo is still considering how to go about naming them once their genders are determined, Dr. Meyerson said. The zoo might engage the public in the process, like they did back when the last polar bear was born in December 2009. A contest involving more than 80 schoolchildren from Alaska's North Slope resulted in the name Siku.

The zoo’s cubs have an important future as ambassadors for a species, protected under the Endangered Species Act, which faces grave threats in their native habitat.

Twin polar bear cubs are to go on display this May. Thirteen-year-old mother Crystal is caring for the cubs off-exhibit, where the Zoo’s animal care staff is monitoring their progress through a monitor in the den. Twin polar bear cubs are to go on display this May. Thirteen-year-old mother Crystal is caring for the cubs off-exhibit, where the Zoo’s animal care staff is monitoring their progress through a monitor in the den.
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“Human activities have a direct effect on polar bears, and their plight should encourage all of us to decrease our carbon footprint,” Dr. Meyerson said.

Because polar bears are also such charismatic animals that they offer an opportunity to interest people, particularly children, in engaging with nature, said Jeff Sailer, the zoo’s executive director.

“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,” Mr. Sailer said. “We hope these cubs inspire our visitors to join us in caring for polar bears and their environment.”

Contact Tanya Irwin at tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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