Second Polar Bear Birth of the Year for Germany
December 12, 2016
Three years after the birth of twin Polar Bears at Hellabrunn Zoo Munich, they are celebrating another arrival. On November 21, Giovanna gave birth to a healthy cub.
The newborn cub is in good health and mum Giovanna has been caring lovingly for her little one. The father of the latest offspring is 17-year-old Yoghi.
The birth at Hellabrunn represents only the second Polar Bear birth in Germany this year, after the birth of a cub at Tierpark Berlin.
Photo Credits: Tierpark Hellabrunn
In their natural habitat, expectant females dig a den in a snowdrift, which provides shelter for giving birth and provides protection for the vulnerable newborn. At Hellabrunn Zoo, ten-year-old Giovanna has a birthing den, where she has retreated since the beginning of the autumn.
Following this voluntary seclusion by Giovanna, zookeepers were curious to find out if another cub would be born in the Polar World exhibit this year. Zoo curator Beatrix Köhler monitored Giovanna's behaviour via a video stream from the birthing den, "On the afternoon of 21 November, it became apparent that Giovanna was in labour. Unlike the birth of the twins Nela and Nobby, which could be clearly watched via video link, Giovanna gave birth to her third cub in a sitting position, so that the actual birth could not be seen."
The new cub is getting bigger and more active with each passing day. Giovanna keeps her little baby warm by holding it either at her neck or between her paws. "One can clearly see that Giovanna is an experienced mum. She handles her offspring with loving care and regularly checks to make sure everything is okay," explains Beatrix Köhler.
According to keepers, the cub currently weighs about 600 grams and is approximately 20 cm tall. However, the sex of the newborn cannot yet be determined.
Without siblings to compete with, the new arrival is expected to grow quickly in size and weight, thanks to mother's milk. The cub’s eyes will open for the first time after about four and a half weeks.
Christine Strobl, Mayor and Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Hellabrunn Zoo, is extremely delighted, "The birth of another Polar Bear cub is a wonderful success for the zoo and represents a significant development in the conservation of this endangered species."
It may take some time before visitors will be able to see the newborn Polar Bear cub in the outdoor enclosure. The cub is expected to emerge, for the first time, towards the end of winter when it is strong enough to step outside. As with Giovanna and Yoghi’s twins, Nela and Nobby, dad will not play a part in raising the new cub. Female Polar Bears do not allow the male near their young, as the fathers may see their own offspring as potential prey and attempt to harm them.
A video link of the birthing den is available for visitors in the zoo’s Species Conservation Center, where visitors can have a view into the den via Live Stream.
The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is a carnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle, encompassing the Arctic Ocean, its surrounding seas and surrounding landmasses.
Because of expected habitat loss caused by climate change, the Polar Bear is classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. At least three of the nineteen subpopulations are currently in decline.