TOLEDO (WTOL) - Early this spring, the Toledo Zoo will have its seventh polar bear cub ready for you to see.
Although polar bears are a threatened species right now, the Toledo Zoo is very successful at breeding and caring for them.
Michael Frushour is their curator of mammals and credits the staff for this success.
“Even though it’s got a little age on it, it’s still a state of the art facility as far as polar bears go. So, we provide a great environment. We provide that care," Frushour said.
The Toledo Zoo works nationally with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They have a species survival plan that helps ensure polar bears are in the right environment.
“They basically have a plan in place for us to look at the genetics of all the bears in captivity both in the United States and abroad, and then we actually pair these animals up just to make sure we maintain that genetic diversity that we need,” said Frushour.
The new cub only weighed about one pound at birth, but is doing well. It will take a few weeks to determine the cub’s gender, but for now it’s being cared for off-site with its mother Crystal. Marty, the father is at the Toledo Zoo.
The exact date of the cub’s arrival to the zoo has yet to be determined.
The Toledo Zoo announced the birth of the yet-to-be-named polar bear cub on Dec. 9.
The zoo’s animal care staff is carefully observing the cub’s progress through a video monitor in the den. As in the wild, the two bears will stay secluded until the cub grows substantially.
The next steps, including a neo-natal exam with zoo veterinary staff to determine sex and to eventually nail down the exact exhibit debut date. This is all dependent on the cub’s progression.
Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as a vulnerable species and as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In recent years, polar bear numbers have been decreasing due to warming Arctic temperatures causing declines in sea ice. Sea ice is the main location for polar bears to hunt seals, breed and construct dens.
At birth, polar bear cubs are about 12 inches long, weigh only about one pound and are blind and toothless with short, soft fur.
Cubs are completely dependent on their mother, but will grow rapidly by drinking the mother’s milk, which is 31 percent fat.
The mother and cub will not emerge from the den until the cub reaches 20-30 pounds and could safely travel to sea ice for feeding.
Jeff Sailer, the zoo’s CEO & president, said, “The zoo is proud to welcome this conservation ambassador to the world. Each new cub is vitally important for maintaining a healthy and growing assurance population of this magnificent species.
"A new birth also shines a renewed spotlight on the plight of wild polar bear populations and gives the zoo another opportunity to educate our visitors on how to reduce our carbon footprints and help conserve this imperiled species and its Arctic habitat. We look forward to sharing this new cub with our visitors soon!”