The Columbus Zoo Has Welcomed A New Baby Polar Bear

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium got the best Thanksgiving surprise ever.

On Thursday, polar bears Aurora and Lee welcomed a brand new cub to the zoo. Aurora is being an attentive mother to the new babe, and although she and her little one will remain in a private den until spring, the staff have been observing them.

13-year-old Aurora isn’t a new mom. Her first cub, Nora, captured the hearts of everyone in Columbus when she was born in 2015. Now, Nora lives at the Hogle Zoo in Utah. The following year, Aurora gave birth once again, this time to twins Neva and Nuniq, who now live in Maryland and Wisconsin.

The unnamed cub was born at 12:43 a.m. Both Aurora and her sister Anana have been under observation as they have both been seen denning. At this time, the Animal Care staff is unsure as to whether or not Anana will also be giving birth. Polar bears have some of the lowest reproductive rates of any mammal, and since there aren’t pregnancy tests for polar bears, the team will keep monitoring Anana through early January.

Aurora’s new cub is the first for 20-year-old dad Lee, who came to the Columbus Zoo from Denver last year.

“We are very proud of the continued success of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s polar bear program. The birth of this polar bear cub is extremely exciting, of course, but the work of our team isn’t over as the survival rate for a delicate cub during its first few weeks is low based on a variety of factors,”said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO Tom Stalf.

“I am also extremely proud of our Animal Care team, who continually show their expertise and dedication as they work day and night to provide the animals with top quality care,” Stalf went on to say. “The polar bear is a species that continues to face many threats to their survival, and we are not only helping to contribute to their future with these births, but we also remain committed to sharing the knowledge we gain through these experiences with our conservation partners and others working to help save polar bears.”

The polar bear was the first species listed under the Enangered Species Act primarily due to climate change. Due to the disappearance of sea ice, experts estimate that only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears are left in their native range. Since 2008, the Zoo has contributed more than $250,000 to research benefiting polar bears in the Arctic.