The Polar Bears made it through the summer quite comfortably. We only had four days that reached ninety degrees this year. On those days, Aurora and Zero made use of their indoor holding areas where we use fans and chilled air misters to keep them cool. They also love getting ice blocks with treats frozen inside them.
They made the most use out of their large outdoor pool and waterfalls. One of Zero’s favorite places to be is underneath the waterfalls. He lodges himself between the rocks, rests his head on the far edge of the pool, and lets the falling water massage his shoulders and back. Sometimes in the summer we get calls to check on Zero from concerned visitors who are afraid that he is stuck there, but rest assured that he is safe and sound and can easily get back out!
Aurora enjoys her pool time as well, as many of you may have seen over this summers’ programing season during our Polar Bear enrichment demonstrations. She especially enjoys playing with new “toys.” Watch her in action in the following video:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ynYgQ2kIDg]
The end of the summer season means the end of the the polar bears’ time together, too. Every year right after Labor Day, we separate the bears for the fall denning season, which lasts until right after New Year’s Day. We do this because in the bears’ natural range, Aurora would seek a private place away from Zero if she were pregnant. So in case she is, we want to give her a calm and quiet place to rest where she can feel safe and secure.
Attached to her room is a den that is low in height and dimly lit which she uses to make a big straw nest in. During the denning season, Zero is never allowed in Aurora’s room or in her cubbing den. He has his own “bachelor pad” on the other side of the indoor holding area. It has multiple levels, an open air mesh top over half of it and a roof over the other half, as well as another pool. They take turns using the outdoor exhibit, so you will only see one or the other outside at a time for the next four months.
Blog and video by Heidi Beifus, Zoo Keeper