Toledo Zoo polar bear moving to Chicago to find love

Published: Feb. 14, 2017 at 11:49 AM EST
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In an effort to move the polar bear species forward, the Toledo Zoo is working with the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) to provide a new home and potential breeding partner for Nan.

Nan is the Toledo Zoo's female polar bear. Nan will now reside with male, Hudson, in the Great Bear Wilderness exhibit of the Brookfield Zoo.

“It is important to understand that zoo animal collections are not static. For the good of the US zoo population, the Toledo Zoo worked with the SSP to make the complex decision to send our female polar bear, Nan, to the Brookfield Zoo for breeding purposes. Being wild born, she is a genetically valuable bear in the SSP. Nan will be moving into an exhibit that was built just a few years ago and will be paired with a male,” said Terry Webb, director of animal programs at Toledo Zoo.

The Polar Bear Species Survival Plan was established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and is coordinated by Toledo Zoo’s assistant director of animal programs, Dr. Randi Meyerson. The Plan is a cooperative breeding and conservation program in which zoos across the nation work together to maintain a healthy and genetically diverse population of the great white bear.

According to the Toledo Zoo, Nan, approximately 21 years of age, originally came to the Toledo Zoo in August of 2001 on a Species Survival Plan breeding recommendation from the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington. However, this polar bear’s story began a long way from Tacoma. Nan, short for the Inupiaq word, Nanutaaq, meaning young of a bear, came under human care after she was discovered as cub orphaned under a house in Barrow, Alaska.

Determining Nan was too young to survive in the wild on her own, wildlife authorities took her to the Point Defiance where she resided for nearly five years. Since being transfered to the Toledo Zoo, Nan had resided in the Arctic Encounter exhibit with male, Marty, female, Crystal and several cubs (including Nan’s only offspring, Nikita, in 2006) throughout her 16 year stay.

Polar bears are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as a vulnerable species and as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

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