Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear cub is growing up strong and healthy! Born on November 9 to a resident mom, Aurora, the cub was one of three born in the litter. Despite Aurora showing perfect maternal instincts, including nursing the cubs shortly after their birth, the zoo was saddened to discover that two of the three cubs did not survive the first 48 hours. They made the decision to hand raise and carefully monitor the third cub so he would have to best chance of survival. (See our previous update here.)
Since then, the male cub has recovered from low weight and made many developmental milestones. His eyes have been fully open since day 35 and he's already taken his first steps. He is quite active and starting to play.
The cub now weighs about 9.7 pounds (4 kg), which is a is a 529% increase since his original birth weight. Although he receives milk from a bottle six times a day, he has recently started to learn how to lap milk from a dish, a transition that eventually will help him learn to eat solid foods.
Watch the cub's first steps:
Watch a bottle-feeding:
Happy bear sounds!
The little cub is beginning to teethe and he likes to bite objects such as his blanket. His canine teeth, incisors and some of his molars can now be felt. He has a few whiskers and his coat is becoming thicker as he continues to grow.
He still remains in a temperature-controlled environment within the Wildlife Health Centre but has been out of his incubator for the past month. The temperature in his room has been gradually reduced. In fact, an air conditioner has been installed for his comfort. He is a Polar Bear, after all!
See and read more after the fold.
The team, consisting of dedicated veterinary and wildlife care staff experts, continues the process of monitoring his temperature, taking blood samples, weighing him and feeding him a special formula to help build up his strength.
"Our Wildlife Care Team has been working around the clock to look after this special cub. We are very happy with his progress so far. We hope that he will grow up to become another ambassador for his species, highlighting threats to the arctic environment," says Dr. Graham Crawshaw, Senior Veterinarian.
Toronto Zoo is involved in collaborative research projects involving multiple accredited zoos and organizations to help better understand Polar Bear reproductive biology, and provide valuable information to support Polar Bear education, research and conservation efforts in the wild.
"With our ongoing research to help save Polar Bears, one of our main missions is to bring awareness of the plight of Polar Bears in the wild. The Toronto Zoo's Tundra Trek area focuses on climate change and its effects on species conservation within this region", says Maria Franke, curator of mammals. "When he is ready, our new cub will join our other Polar Bears in the Tundra Trek and help spread the word on what you can do to make a difference and help save these magnificent creatures," she added.
The Toronto Zoo has more information, photos and videos of the cub here.