The Cincinnati Zoo's Female Polar Bear Is Moving On, Here's Where She's Going And Why

Jan 23, 2020

Despite high hopes based on her denning behaviors, the Cincinnati Zoo confirmed early this month the polar bear named "Anana" is not pregnant. Now, the agency that oversees the polar bear Species Survival Plan is recommending a new mate.

"She's been with our male polar bear for three breeding seasons and unfortunately they haven't produced any cubs so we need to get her into a different situation," says zoo Communications Director Michelle Curley.

Sometime next week Anana is expected to make the journey from Cincinnati to the Detroit Zoo where she'll be paired with their 15-year-old male, "Nuka," who has sired several offspring. She'll stay in Detroit "for the foreseeable future," Curley says, adding the move was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

"We had really high hopes that she was pregnant this time," says Curley. "She slept 23 hours a day, which is definitely pregnancy behavior, but (polar bears) can also be pseudo-pregnant and apparently that's what it was."

Anana, who had been showing signs of pregnancy since the late fall, began exhibiting she was ready to come out of her pregnancy den in early January, according to Curley.

Anana has had cubs previously and it's hoped she may have more. She arrived in Cincinnati in Nov. 2016 to be matched with the zoo's male polar bear, "Little One." She's now 19 years old and Little One, at age 31, is considered geriatric.

"Little One is the most genetically valuable male polar bear in the North American zoo population, so we were really hoping it would work out with him."

The male has never sired offspring, meaning his genes aren't already represented in the captive polar bear population. The AZA and the Species Survival Plan monitor the animal population and coordinate mating to ensure against inbreeding that could lead to genetic problems.

Little One will remain in Cincinnati by himself. Curley says he's fine on his own as male polar bears are solitary creatures.