Tonawanda News

Features

March 25, 2013

New baby polar bear carries a lot of responsibility on her furry little shoulders

Tonawanda News — Just the other day, the new polar bear cub at the Buffalo Zoo started sitting on her backside and grooming her chubby little belly. It was the cutest thing, according to observers. 

No question, the new cub is captivating. Watching her one recent morning, as she called out for her human “mother” with a pitiful, hungry wail, it’s hard to imagine that the fluffy little baby will one day be a giant bear that could kill a human with a swipe.

But, that’s likely part of the reason area humans are so captivated by Luna, a living example of the mysteries and majesty of mother nature — and an irresistible, fluffy, silly-acting new addition to the animal collection at the Buffalo Zoo.

The little bear has a lot riding on her furry white shoulders. She represents the hope for the future in more ways than one.

“Her birth came at a really good time,” said Rachel Gottlieb, a spokeswoman for the zoo, where administrators are reaching out to the region for assistance in a campaign to build a state-of-the-art polar bear enclosure. “We’re really hoping she’s going to be a good ambassador for the campaign. 

The zoo has already raised $18 million, but needs about $4 million more to begin construction. Without the enclosure they won’t likely be allowed to keep the bear. The current polar bear exhibit, built in 1890s and updated in the 1940s, is empty now and far too out-of-date to meet current standards for humane and healthy housing for bears, especially bears whose species are threatened, like the polar bear.

In addition, in-captivity births of polar bears are very rare, so her November arrival was attended to with great interest in the zoo community. Preferences would have been for the cub to stay with its mom, keepers said, but she was removed from her mother shortly after birth, when it appeared that mom was disinterested in the newborn, who weighed in at about a pound. 

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