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March 25, 2013

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

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Tonawanda News — Kept under wraps until just recently, the cub has drawn media crews from around the country and has already made video appearances on two national morning news shows. There have been more than 400,000 “likes” on the zoo’s Facebook page since video of the baby bear was posted. Her every move is monitored by a live television feed at the zoo in the Rainforest Exhibit, and when she is finally introduced to the public, there should be a healthy uptick in zoo visitors.

But, the baby is more than a cute, furry face. She’s also important because her father, now about 22-years-old, was an orphan bear caught in the wild who, as such, provided Luna with the strongest genes possible for a healthy polar bear lineage.

Luna’s adopted mom is a zoo veternarian technician, Alice Rohauer, who brought the baby home every night until just recently and cared for all her needs. More than one observer found it fascinating to watch as the cub called out for Rohauer, with repeated raspy grunts, and then noisily enjoyed a bottle of animal formula held by her “mom,” oblivious to the delight on onlookers. 

Rohauer appears cautious not to bond too much with the baby bear — as the bear seems to be bonding with her — explaining that bear moms and cubs don’t do much bonding once the cubs needs are met, adding that bears quickly become solitary creatures. 

When asked if she would be safer than other keepers when Luna is a full-sized creature, Rohauer shook her head. “Hand-raised animals are the most dangerous,” she said, “because they no longer fear humans.”

The vet-tech has raised many zoo babies, from reindeer to big horn sheep, especially those near death, and while her favorites are the baby hyenas, those watching her tend to Luna were likely to see clearly that the keeper cares deeply for her charge. 

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