Polar Bear Keepers
Chinook gave birth to two beautiful, fuzzy white cubs.
High hopes for Chinook!
Beep, beep, beep. . .I turned the alarm clock off. Yes, it was a dream, right? Or maybe a premonition? It seemed so real! As soon as I arrived at the polar bear building at the San Diego Zoo, Chinook came out of her bed to say good morning, so I asked her, “Are you really going to have two?” She simply winked at me; if she does know, she’s keeping us all in suspense. Every week during her ultrasound exams we are so hopeful of finding just a little hint of what may be to come. We realize what an incredible task this is to find something so small in such a large belly!
Hali is attending Keeper Leadership Camp, sponsored by Polar Bears International, in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Read her previous post, Polar Bear Camp for Keepers.
Today was an amazing day out on the tundra. Before we even left our dock, a polar bear wandered into our camp area to explore the Tundra Buggies®. After sniffing about under our sleeping quarters, the bear slowly ambled over to our buggy to investigate US! Words just can’t describe the emotions I felt when I locked eyes with this beautiful animal. We saw each other, and the tears welled up. To be face to face with a wild polar bear in it’s own home was truly priceless.
We landed in Churchill on a turbo prop plane at 9:30 this morning, eager to start our adventure at Polar Bears International’s Keeper Leadership Camp. Upon arrival, the group was loaned Canada Goose Chilliwack parkas to keep us warm on our journey. We headed into the Polar Bear Capital of the World for the first time on a Tundra Buggy® vehicle. The dirt roads along the way were lined with Canada geese and snow geese. Churchill served as a thriving Canadian armed services base during WWII as well as a rocket research center until the late 1960s. Today, this small community of 850 people relies on ecotourism as its major economic activity. Each year, thousands of tourists flock to Churchill to observe beluga whales, birds, and polar bears. The lives of the local people are intertwined with the polar bear population along the Hudson Bay.
Only Chinook knows for sure...
Changes have begun at the San Diego Zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge
. You may have noticed that Chinook has spent the last few weeks with Kalluk and Tatqiq for less periods of time. We have been watching her behavior and started to decrease her time with them as she began to show no interest in interacting with them and even began to push them away.
The summer is just flying by—it’s hard to believe we are already into August! As promised, with the beginning of August we are once again looking into ultrasound exams with Chinook. Can it already be nine months since our last ultrasound? Last Friday we had an appointment with our veterinary staff to begin getting our beautiful bear back into the swing of things and, to be honest, get all of Chinook’s caretakers back into the routine as well. (more…)
Kalluk shakes off.
Why no Polar Cam
? Have you looked recently? The Polar Cam has been replaced by a new HD camera system, and it looks so much better! And in keeping with our message of reducing our waste, the old camera will be reused in our Polar Bear Park (the new management yard behind the main polar bear exhibit)! We have been able to raise enough funds to add some cameras and the ability to pan-tilt-zoom! This will help us see where our bears are from inside the polar bear building and what antics our trio is up to. In addition—YES!—we will be installing an Internet hookup so that in the event Chinook has cubs, we will be able to show her den live on our Web site! With the installation of the cameras in the park, we will also be able to watch the bears in the pool. We are hoping to have all the work done by the beginning of July. We want to have lots of practice with it by the fall!
Kalluk checks out new neighbor Kaniq.
Last week, a new couple moved into the Polar Bear Plunge neighborhood at the San Diego Zoo: a male and female Arctic fox. They are three years old and absolutely enchanting to get to know. The male is a polar phase, meaning he is completely white in his coloring, and the female is a blue phase, which means she has gray or black mixed with her winter white! We chose their names using the language of the Inuit and their fur colors; our male is Kaniq, or frost, and our female is Isiq, the word for smoke.
Kalluk refocuses his energy.
Spring arrived at the San Diego Zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge a few days early this year. Chinook and Kalluk began breeding on March 17 and then abruptly stopped on March 24. Last year, the season lasted from February to June! Although it’s possible we could see more, we are not expecting it to be likely. Chinook’s behavior gives us no indicators like last year that she will cycle again, and even though Kalluk has shown some behavioral frustration, he has not shown any interest in Chinook for almost a month. So what could this mean?
In just a few days, we reopen the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge
at the San Diego Zoo. For the past week, the final touches have been added to all the new elements. Wait until you see the new polar bear statues. Polar bears are extremely difficult to get proportionally correct in art. The adult male statue is immense, and yes, true to real size when a male is over 12 years old and has been feasting well. The young bear reminds me so much of Kalluk when he was two years old. I think the most remarkable statue is the one of a 30-day-old cub as it would look in the den.
Kalluk, left, and Chinook
Could it be we are nearing the end of our fantastic remodel of the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge at the San Diego Zoo? Anyone who has remodeled their home knows the joys and dilemmas that improvement brings. Most of the work that impacted our bears was completed last fall with the building of our management yard and the experience wall.
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