Tierpark Berlin

Tierpark Berlin’s Polar Bear Cub Has Big Day Out

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Tierpark Berlin’s Polar Bear cub ventured outdoors for the first time recently. Keepers watched with pride as the cub left the den with her mother, Tonja, and explored the outdoor exhibit for the very first time.

“Today is an extremely special day for the entire team here at Tierpark Berlin,” reported Tierpark Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem. “After months of nervous waiting and crossing our fingers, I can hardly put the feeling of relief into words. We are delighted that visitors will finally get to see our little Polar Bear...”

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4_Eisbärin Tonja mit Nachwuchs_Tierpark Berlin 2019 (4)Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

The cub was born December 1, 2018 and spent the first three and a half months of her life with her mother, Tonja, in their maternity den. During that time, the helpless and tiny newborn grew into a strong and sturdy little bear.

“We are still extremely pleased with how the cub is developing,” said Polar Bear curator, Dr. Florian Sicks. “She has become so active and confident on her own four paws that it was clearly time for her to get outdoors.”

According to keepers, the cub has gained a lot of strength and confidence, so much so that during her second veterinary examination, she made it impossible for the team to weigh and measure her!

During her first introduction of the exhibit, the spritely young bear had hardly emerged from the den before she was off on a thorough exploration of her new surroundings. She clambered boldly over the rocks and even splashed around in the large pool.

“Young Polar Bears know instinctively how to swim as soon as they are big enough to leave the den with their mothers,” explained Sicks.

Protective mum Tonja never let her daughter out of her sight and was always standing by in case help was required.

According to the Zoo, Tonja and her cub will be spending time outdoors every day and will be on view to Tierpark visitors. Since outdoor adventures are rather tiring for small bears, the cub will still need to take regular rests with her mother in their den. The pair will therefore only be outside for a few hours at a time, especially in the early days.

The young Polar Bear is currently still yet-to-be-named, but Tierpark Berlin is in the process of deciding on the cub’s sponsor, which will then be involved in choosing a name. A decision on both the sponsor and the name is expected to be reached in early April.

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Polar Bear Cub Nibbles Toward New Milestone

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The Polar Bear cub, at Tierpark Berlin, is reaching toward another important milestone!

The female was born December 1, 2018 to parents, Tonja (age 9) and Volodya (age 7), and ZooBorns shared recent news of the cub’s first checkup in our feature: “Polar Bear Cub Brings ‘Girl Power’ to Tierpark Berlin”.

"The little Polar Bear is now interested in solid food and slowly nibbles meat pieces,” said Curator, Dr. Florian Sick. The new mom currently gets a daily portion of meat and a mix of carrots, lettuce and apples. Her new cub cannot miss the opportunity and occasionally manages to sample her mother’s meal. However, mother still regularly nurses the little bear.

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4_TonjaPhoto Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Zoo Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem, is pleased with the good development of the cub. "We are very satisfied that the cub is quite cheeky and keeps her mother literally on the run around. Tonja always remains calm. She's just a really good Mama Bear."

By mid-March, the two will first go on a discovery tour of the grounds and will then be on exhibit for visitors to see.


Polar Bear Cub Brings ‘Girl Power’ to Tierpark Berlin

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During her first official veterinary exam, the Polar Bear cub at Tierpark Berlin demonstrated to staff that even a small bear has a lot of power!

New mother, Tonja, and her cub have spent their first eleven weeks tucked in cozy togetherness in the litter cave. The first vet exam not only determined the cub’s health, but the sex as well.

“The little Polar Bear is a cheery, strong girl. We were also able to convince ourselves personally of the development of the cub and are extremely satisfied,” shared Veterinarian/Zoo Director, Dr. Andreas Knieriem.

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4_Geschlechtbestimmung_Dr.Strauß_Dr. Knieriem_Tierpark Berlin_2019Photo Credits: Tierpark Berlin

Dr. Knieriem led the examination of the new cub, with the assistance of Dr. Günter Strauß and district manager Andrea Fleischer. After mom, Tonja, was lured with a warm soup of meat and carrots into the neighboring box, the vets were able to approach the youngster for the first time.

The female cub was also weighed, vaccinated, and treated for worms. With the three professional staff working together, the exam was over after about 15 minutes.

“The little Polar Bear, with a size of 61 cm from head to butt, proudly weighs 8.5 kg," explained Veterinarian, Dr. Günter Strauss.

Thanks to the extremely nutritious breast milk, with a fat content of about 30%, the cub’s size has increased rapidly in recent weeks. She currently nurses almost two hours a day, but the little bear has not dared to eat solid food.

According to Polar Bear Curator, Dr. Florian Sicks, zoo visitors will have to wait a bit to catch a glimpse of the new cub.

“Only when the little Polar Bear can safely follow mother, Tonja, will the two leave the nesting hole," Dr. Sicks explained. “This is expected to last until March.”

The cub was born December 1, 2018 to parents, Tonja (age 9) and Volodya (age 7). As in the wild, the father is not involved in the rearing of the cub.

The girl cub does not have a name yet, but Tierpark Berlin staff will announce plans for naming in the near future.


Baby Polar Bear Snuggles Into the New Year

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As the saying goes, “No news is good news” – and this applies to the Polar Bear den at Tierpark Berlin. The tiny infant born there on December 1 remains peacefully tucked away in the maternity den with its mother Tonja, and spends its days nursing and cuddling with mom.

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Tonja kuschelt mit Eisbärjungtier_Tierpark BerlinPhoto Credit: Tierpark Berlin

The zoo staff is taking a hands-off approach to the new cub, allowing Tonja to care for her baby just as wild Polar Bears do. Mothers and cubs spend several months in their den, emerging in the spring.  The staff, including curator Dr. Florian Sick, uses remote camera technology to observe mom and baby every hour. "Based on the video images, I can see that the offspring has become really mischievous over the holidays. The little bear is also getting more and more active,” explains Dr. Sick.

Baby Polar Bears have a high mortality rate – in the wild, up to 85% of Polar Bears do not survive past two years of age. Dr. Sick cautions that although the cub is thriving so far, the outlook for its survival is still precarious. But for now, the zookeepers celebrate every gram that the little Polar Bear gains.

In about a month, Dr. Sick expects that the staff will have a chance to conduct a hands-on examination of the cub. By that time, Tonja will start leaving her baby in the den for short periods while she eats and drinks outdoors. While Tonja is out of the den, zookeepers can quickly weigh and examine the infant.

It’s hard for the keepers to wait to meet the cub in person, especially when they see adorable images of the baby on the remote cameras. But all agree on one wish for the new year – a healthy, active baby Polar Bear.

Wild Polar Bears face many threats, including diminishing sea ice which limits their ability to hunt. Many scientists believe that climate change is the root cause of Polar Bears’ clouded future.


Baby Polar Bear Gaining Strength At Tierpark Berlin

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A tiny Polar Bear cub born at Tierpark Berlin has passed an important milestone and is now just over two weeks old.

Born on December 1 to mother Tonja, the little Bear spends its days snuggled in a private den and tucked against mom’s warm furry body.

The zoo’s curator, Dr. Florian Sick, keeps close tabs on the newborn. Modern camera technology allows Dr. Sick to check on mom and baby in the maternity den from his smart phone at any moment of the day. This allows the staff to observe but not disturb the Polar Bears.

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Tonja und Jungtier_Tierpark Berlin_2018Photo Credit: Tierpark Berlin

From his observations, Dr. Sick notes that the baby nurses about 11 times each 24-hour period. He is hopeful that the baby will be strong enough to survive, but cautions that the mortality rate for young Polar Bears is very high. In the wild, about 85% of Polar Bears do not survive past their second birthday.

Read the baby Polar Bear's birth announcement on ZooBorns.

Polar Bears are generally born in late fall or early winter. Moms and babies remain in the maternity den for several months, and don’t emerge until spring. Tonja makes occasional trips outdoors to drink fresh water, but she does not eat and returns to her cub after just a few minutes. She lives off the thick layer of fat she accumulated last spring and summer. Males are not involved in rearing their young.

Polar Bears face numerous threats in the wild, including climate change, which results in starvation due to habitat loss. Polar Bears hunt their prey – usually Seals – from platforms of floating sea ice. As ocean temperatures rise, sea ice has diminished, and Polar Bears must swim farther off shore to reach the remaining ice. The long swims deplete the Polar Bears’ caloric reserves, making it less likely that they will survive. They cannot hunt in open water.

Polar Bears are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.