Meet Nora and Hope
After much anticipation, Utah’s Hogle Zoo is pleased to introduce two year-old polar bears, Nora and Hope. The two female bears arrived at the Zoo in September of 2017 and have adjusted well to their new home — getting acquainted with their keepers and each other.
Nora was born at Columbus Zoo Nov. 6, 2015. Shortly after birth, her mother began leaving her unattended in the den for prolonged periods of time. Keepers made the difficult decision to hand-rear the tiny cub.
She was sent to Oregon Zoo last September, in the hopes she might be mentored by their senior bear. “For a young bear that was hand-raised, the companionship of another bear is so important for developing social skills,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees Oregon Zoo’s marine life area. Sadly, Oregon Zoo lost their senior bear shortly after Nora arrived. Again, Nora was without bear companionship.
About seven weeks after Nora was born, she was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease which happens because of an imbalance of calcium, Vitamin D and other nutrients. Columbus Zoo staff immediately started supplementing her diet with calcium and Vitamin D. She responded well. However, metabolic bone disease often contributes to skeletal problems later in life. Nora currently has some joint disorders that are likely to develop into arthritis. When watching her, she sometimes appears to limp or ‘waddle.’ Veterinarians at Hogle Zoo have been in regular communication with both Columbus and Oregon Zoos to ensure that Nora receives the most effective treatment possible including a lot of swim time!
Hope, named after Point Hope, Alaska, was born at Toledo Zoo on December 3, 2015. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommended Hope’s transfer to Utah’s Hogle Zoo. The SSP prioritizes putting young animals together when they are mature enough to leave their mothers. In the wild, young bears separate from their mothers around age two and often band together to survive the harsh conditions in the Arctic.
We anticipate that Hope will be a great mentor bear for Nora. They’re only one month apart in age and have the same youthful energy. And so far, it’s going smoothly.
Hope – and Nora – for the Future
The polar bear is among Hogle Zoo’s Big 6 Conservation Species – six species receiving the focus of the Zoo’s conservation efforts. “As one of our signature programs we concentrate our financial and staffing resources to try to save this particular species,” said Liz Larsen. “Our leadership in the zoo community toward conservation has helped secure us as a flagship institution for such a high profile species as polar bears.”
Utah’s Hogle Zoo has a long history of caring for polar bears – offering a home to the species from 1957 – 2003, during which time Hogle Zoo produced 10 offspring. The opening of Rocky Shores, in 2012, saw the much anticipated return of the polar bear after a nine year absence. Designed to be a long-term breeding and conservation facility Utah’s Hogle Zoo hopes to contribute to the study and science of polar bears for years to come.
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is leading the way with its work with Polar Bears International as an Arctic Ambassador Center (AAC); a collection of zoos, museums and aquariums that educate the public about climate change and provide leadership for carbon-emission reductions in our communities. Global warming is melting the Arctic sea ice polar bears call home, and with it, access to the food and shelter necessary for the species’ survival.