Move to Ohio proved to be fruitful for Lee, the 20-year-old polar bear who left the Denver Zoo last year.
In October 2018, the Denver Zoo’s polar bear pair, Lee and Cranbeary, were split up and sent to different zoos after failing to produce cubs. In hopes of other matches producing offspring, the couple was separated—Cranbeary to the Alaska Zoo and Lee to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio. The polar bears' former Denver Zoo habitat was turned into additional space for the grizzly bears, Harmony Hill.
Though it was hard to see Cranbeary and Lee leave Denver, it was the best decision for them and for the zoo. In fact, both bears are doing well. It was announced on Friday, November 29, that a healthy baby cub was born to Lee and his new partner, Aurora. This is Lee's first successful sire; Aurora has three cubs from previous litters.
The new cub at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is being nursed by her mother and will be kept under close care and observation by zoo staff for several months. The name and gender of the cub have yet to be released.
This is wonderful news for Lee, and for the polar bear population, which was the first species to be listed as an endangered species in 2008 under the Endangered Species Act and is rapidly losing its natural habitat.
Cranbeary has settled in well at the Alaska Zoo, though she has not had any cubs yet. She is a favorite attraction and is currently being monitored in her private maternity den for signs of pregnancy. Polar bears are a tricky species with a very low reproductive rate, and there's no way to test to see if they are pregnant.
The Columbus Zoo may be announcing another birth soon, as Aurora’s twin sister, Anana, is showing similar signs of denning activity and is being closely observed by zoo staff.
While we would love to have the new polar bear cub right here in Denver, we are happy for Lee and the Columbus Zoo and hope to hear more baby news form either of the polar bears that once called the Denver Zoo home.
Do you miss the polar bears as much as we do? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.