The polar bears of Sapporo Maruyama Zoo

A New Life was born to our Polar Bear Family!
Tue, 18 Jan 2011 

Our polar bear Lara gave birth to a baby on Christmas day, 25 Dec 2010. Lara is an experienced mother who has successfully raised 4 cubs before.
Lara and her baby are housed in a quiet den room, and seem to be in stable condition. Video cameras are showing adequate lactation as well as lively calls from the baby.
On 14 Jan, our polar bear keeper fed Lara for the first time since her delivery. We will stay away from the den room for the time being, and keep monitoring remotely.
The baby should meet you in April (the schedule is subject to change). Don’t miss the cutest time!

For more information, contact us at:zoo.kanri@city.sapporo.jp
Video image (thermal camera) Mon 17 Jan

・ Baby Information
Date of birth: 25 Dec 2010, 3pm
 We are assured from the camera that there is only one baby growing.
Mother: Lara (born on 20 Nov 1994, in Oita, Japan)
Father: Denali (born on 9 Nov 1993, in Hogle Zoo, USA)

・Lara’s birth history
1st: Tsuyoshi (female, born on 11 Dec 2003) Currently in Kushiro Zoo, Japan
2nd: Pirka (female, born on 15 Dec 2005) Currently in Sapporo Maruyama Zoo, Japan
3rd (twins): Ikor and Kiroru (both male, born on 9 Dec 2008) Currently in Obihiro Zoo, Japan


Ikor and Kiroru
Ikor and Kiroru

・Polar bears at present
The wild population of polar bears has been in decline, currently estimated to be 20,000 - 25,000, due in part to loss of sea ice from climate change. They are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ to extinction in IUCN Red List.

As of 2008, there are 352 captive polar bears in 134 institutions worldwide. In Japan, the number decreased from 61 in 2000 to 45 in Nov 2010, during which only 5 cubs grew up successfully: 4 in Maruyama Zoo, and 1 in Wakayama (by artificial breeding)

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赤ちゃん 2010年12月25日(土)午後3時すぎ誕生
母親 ララ  1994年11月20日別府ラクテンチ動物園生まれ(16歳)
父親 デナリ 1993年11月9日アメリカHogle動物園生まれ(17歳)

第1子 「ツヨシ」2003年12月11日生まれ(7歳・雌) 
第2子 「ピリカ」2005年12月15日生まれ(5歳・雌)
第3・4子 「イコロ」・「キロル」 2008年12月9日出産(2歳・いずれも雄)




  Maruyama Zoo is presently raising and exhibiting 4 polar bears: Rara
(female, born on November 20th, 1994 in Oita prefecture, Japan), Satsuki (female, born on November 14th, 1991 in Ohio, USA), and twin cubs (both male, born on December 9th, 2008 in Sapporo Maruyama Zoo, Japan. Their mother is Rara).

polar bears

 Because polar bears are wise and very nervous, their natural reproduction in captivity hardly succeeds.
 There are lots of examples of bear couples that do not copulate because they have no affinity for each other, or of bear mothers that abandoned their cub.
 About 50 polar bears are currently raised in Japan, and only 4 little bears have been born successfully by natural reproduction since 2000: Tsuyoshi, born in December 2003 (female, now bred in Kushiro Zoo, in Hokkaido), Pirka, born in December 2005 (female, now bred in Obihiro Zoo, in Hokkaido) and twin cubs (both male, born in December 2008 in Sapporo Maruyama Zoo, Hokkaido).
 They are the cubs of Maruyama Zoo’s Denali and Rara.
 Both are the cubs of Maruyama Zoo’s Denali and Rara. Their births are of course the results of the affinity between the two parents and of the blessed fecundity of Rara, but also of the fact that the zoo’s staff is always anxious to maintain a good environment for bear mothers to give birth and raise their babies safely.
 Sapporo is located at relative high latitudes in Japan, and in winter the weather is cold and snow falls and accumulates; that is why you can see polar bears living in a snowy environment. But, if a female is suspected to be pregnant, the bear enclosure and its surroundings are closed from falls to early spring, not only to public but also to the staff, in order to provide the mother a quiet environment. We can not

polar bear

recreate the same conditions as in the polar ice field, but we make our possible for the bear mother to spend very quite times from the last period of her pregnancy to the first period of cub raising.
 The number of polar bears is declining because of noxious chemicals, climate change and hunting, and they have been added as vulnerable (VU) to the 2006 red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
 We can take for granted that the main reason why this beautiful and brave bear became endangered is global warming, which is caused by the CO2 emissions due to humans’ industrial activities.
 There are several opinions on the causes and risks of global warming, but it is certain that the melting of the polar ice causes great damages to polar bears that hunt seals on sea ice.
 Maruyama Zoo, like several other zoos in the world, has been entrusted the role of an animal ark that preserves endangered species and makes animals reproduce.
 Polar bears must be more protected.

polar bear cub

In 2003, according to the international pedigree registration, there were 389 bears (almost 400), raised in 160 places, and some cubs have been born since.
Recently, some new born cubs gained publicity: Knut, born in December 2006 in Berlin (Germany), and raised by humans since he has been abandoned by his mother; two twins born in December 2007 in Wien (Austria); Flocke (female), also born in December 2007, and like Knut, raised by humans; two twins (one has passed away since) born in December 2008 in Alborg (Denmark).
 A new snow-white twin cried for the first time in September 2008, here in Sapporo. They are growing in a healthy good condition.
 We would like this twin cubs to become the ambassador of wildlife, the messenger of North Pole.
 We, the Maruyama Zoo’s staff, wish that seeing this cute little bear, people of the world will think about endangered animals, and about the impact of people’s way of living on wildlife.

polar bear’s hair

An image of polar bear’s hair from an electron microscope.
The air space inside is for warm-keeping.
Polar bear’s body has developed specifically to be able to live on polar sea ice.

June 2009

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