Bye, Bo! Youngest Toledo Zoo polar bear moving to Wisconsin
“Species Survival Plan” pairs Bo with a new companion at Madison’s Henry Vilas Zoo
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Bo the polar bear has become a familiar furry face at The Toledo Zoo since his arrival in December 2018 -- and now, he’ll be taking up residence some 300 miles to the northwest.
“We’re unfortunately saying goodbye to Bo!” says curator of mammals Michael Frushour. “He’s been with us for a year and 11 months now.”
The zoo announced Bo’s imminent move on Facebook Live this morning, and Toledo’s loss will be Madison, Wisconsin’s gain: "[He’s] going to be mated or otherwise paired with a female bear at the Henry Vilas Zoo -- so we’re excited for him, but sad to see him go.
It’s all part of the “Species Survival Plan” Program through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, which has been working to find Bo his perfect match.
“It’s basically “E-Harmony” for bears and other endangered species," says Frushour, “to help keep healthy genetics. We always knew that eventually, the Species Survival Plan would have a plan for him to go on to another zoo with another polar bear, to provide that healthy population within zoos.”
It’s not guaranteed that Bo would take to his new girlfriend right away: “They might be a mated pair, but it might just be for companionship -- learning how to be a bear with another bear besides his mom. This is about the time that bears in the wild would be sort of pushed out, either abandoning them or just pushing them out of their comfort zone, so the timing was right.”
The process of actually moving the nearly half-ton animal requires a fair bit of planning.
“It’s going to be a refrigerated truck that we get with a lot of coordination," Frushour says. "He’ll get a medical exam before he leaves, which is always good, then a 5 or 6-hour drive and he’ll be home.”
Frushour says Bo’s playfulness is a sure sign this ursine will be a hit in the Badger State: “It’s always sad to see them go, and Bo has kind of been our celebrity here. He’s probably the most active bear I’ve ever been around. If you come here in the mornings when we first put out the enrichment and food for them, he is just nonstop energy.”
You have until next week to bid Bo farewell, with a rare completely sunny weekend to do so before he packs up and heads to Wisconsin. “The weather’s going to be amazing this weekend,” says Frushour, “so we’re really urging people to come out and celebrate with us, say goodbye and watch Bo go on to bigger and better things!”
The animal caretakers have high hopes that this bittersweet moment won’t last for long: “Crystal and Marty -- the mother and father of four cubs, Bo being one of them -- that prolific pair will hopefully be successful again to bring another cub to Toledo.”
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