Tierpark Berlin’s Polar Bear, Tonja, gave birth to a cub on November 3, 2016. Zoo officials announced that keepers were recently allowed to carry out their first physical exam of the cub.
Dr. Andreas Knieriem (veterinarian and Park Director), Detlef Balkow (keeper), and Dr. Günter Strauß (veterinarian) entered the nesting box to carry out the examination. The young bear was weighed, chipped and dewormed. The team was also able to finally determine the new Polar Bear is a male!
For about seven weeks, keepers worked to prepare Tonja for the exam day. Andrea Fleischer, zoo veterinarian, slowly approached the stable of the young Polar Bear family and conducted daily visits.
In order to ensure that the small offspring could be safely examined, mom Tonja was also temporarily locked into the neighboring box. There she was kept busy with snacks of grapes, carrots and meat.
According to the examination team, the Polar Bear baby has developed quite fantastically. Thanks to the extremely nutritious mother's milk, with a fat content of 30%, the baby has grown rapidly in recent weeks. Keepers report, at the moment, he nurses for about three hours.
The little male was measured by the team and is currently 67 cm from the nose to the tail tip, and the bear now weighs-in at 4.6 kg.
"It was a great pleasure for me to be able to be part of the first vet check of our young Polar Bear. The little one struggled and was very curious, "notes Dr. Knieriem. "So, keeping a small Polar Bear on the arm is always a special experience."
The new family will not be visible to the public until the Spring. However, zoo visitors may be able to catch a glimpse of the cub’s proud papa, Volodya.
Until the mom and cub make their debut, those interested can follow the development of the little bear by means of weekly videos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tierparkberlin/ and news updates via the zoo’s website: http://www.tierpark-berlin.de/de
With the help of local radio and newspapers in Berlin, the zoo is on the search for a name for the young Polar Bear. All proposals can be submitted by February 1, 2017 to radioBERLIN 88.8, the Berliner Zeitung or the Berliner Kurier. The radio station accepts name suggestions by telephone at 030/30 32 888 200 or by e-mail at [email protected].
Below is video of the feisty and very vocal cub, taken during the exam. Although the vocalizations coming from the cub and his mother nearby might sound disturbing, the exam took only around five minutes. The zoo's care team worked to move as quickly as possible and endeavored to cause as little stress as possible for mom and her cub.