Polar Bear Hopes

Posted at 9:45 am October 12, 2010 by JoAnne Simerson

High hopes for Chinook!

Chinook gave birth to two beautiful, fuzzy white cubs. Beep, beep, beep. . .I turned the alarm clock off. Yes, it was a dream, right? Or maybe a premonition? It seemed so real! As soon as I arrived at the polar bear building at the San Diego Zoo, Chinook came out of her bed to say good morning, so I asked her, “Are you really going to have two?” She simply winked at me; if she does know, she’s keeping us all in suspense. Every week during her ultrasound exams we are so hopeful of finding just a little hint of what may be to come. We realize what an incredible task this is to find something so small in such a large belly!

Chinook’s behavior is still very consistent with a pregnant polar bear. A few weeks ago we stopped letting her out on exhibit with Kalluk and Tatqiq, since she seemed to be less tolerant of their presence. This week we stopped having Chinook on exhibit at all or letting Kalluk and Tatqiq into Chinook’s side of the bedroom area and yard. We will continue this for the next few months until we know for sure if our Chinook will be joined by one or two little ones. We are now in the expected due date range if Chinook is pregnant: October 9 to December 15. Believe me, we are all so hopeful and excited!

Our other two polar bears, Kalluk and Tatqiq, are having a great time being full-time ambassadors. With autumn arriving, it seems they spend more time in the pool. Every day the brother-and-sister pair are enjoying roughhousing together. They are great playmates and always play to each other’s level, never getting too rough. It is so nice to see that their bond has stayed so strong.

This week they welcomed keeper Hali O’Connor back from her great adventure up north at Keeper Leadership Camp, sponsored by Polar Bears International, in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. (see Hali’s most recent post, More Arctic Ambassador Adventures) and met this year’s student ambassador, Rachel. She will be up in Churchill this week learning all about polar bears and what we need to do to help slow the process of our warming planet, and, in turn, prevent the complete loss of polar bear habitat. (See Rachel’s post, Countdown to the Arctic.)

Being an Arctic ambassador sometimes seems a daunting task: how to inspire behavior change when it often feels so doom and gloom? It is a global issue and must start with individuals. We’ve faced other environmental problems and won. Remember the hole in the ozone? As individuals, we worked to find the cause, develop solutions, and act as a global community. The unprecedented international action to the hole in the ozone, which was first seen 25 years ago, has paid off. Scientists are now predicting a rebound and that by 2080 the global ozone will return to 1950s’ levels. We now all need to return to action to have the same impact to slow, stop, and reverse the rate of our planet’s warming. After all, we want Chinook’s cubs to know we are doing everything we can to save the Arctic for their wild cousins so they, too, will be Arctic Ambassadors.

JoAnne Simerson is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Polar Bears: A Quiet Fall?

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Comments are currently closed. Pinging is not allowed.

82 Responses to “Polar Bear Hopes”

  1. Dianna from Ohio says:

    JoAnne: You are too bad!! 🙂 My heart stopped when I read your first sentence… 🙂
    I’ve been watching the Polar Bear cam more recently and I was curious about how active Tatqiq and Kalluk are.. I didn’t know if that was normal Polar Bear behavior or not. They are so much fun to watch. And VERY graceful in the water for such BIG bears…

    I’m all for wanting to preserve the world for Chinook’s cubs (and Bai’s too)…. Any tips on how to get started?

    P.S. At what point do you all start the 24/7 cubbie watch?

    Moderator’s note: I can help with your first question 😉 Our Polar Bear Plunge Web site has lots of ideas for helping polar bears, including a carbon footprint calculator.

  2. Michelle in Buffalo NY says:

    Oh my gosh I almost had a heart attack after reading your first sentence! I almost started jumping up on my desk at work and dancing. LOL way to catch us off guard 🙂 All fingers, toes, and paws still crossed for a baby ( or 2, or 3..)

  3. Shirley Ann says:

    Great news about the ozone and hopefully good news about Chinook.

  4. sue Martz says:

    JoAnne, I hope your dream comes true and we have two white fuzzy little one’s running around. Sounds like doing an ultrasound on a polar bear is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Any news yet on the San Diego Zoo’s plan for a trip to Hudson Bay next fall? I haven’t heard anything yet. Keeping fingers and toes crossed for Chinook.

    Moderator’s note: We have the dates (October 28–November 3, 2011) but no details yet. For those interested in this or other San Diego Zoo-sponsored tours, visit our WorldWild Tours page.

  5. Kat says:

    Oh JoAnn, you had my heart racing a mile a minute thinking your dream was real…Chinook is keeping all of us on pins and needles!!! I bet you she knows… I love watching Tatqiq and Kalluk playing in the pool, they act as if they are still little cubbies which is okay with me. Okay Miss Chinook, your adoring fans are waiting (with less fingernails to chew)…Thanks for keeping us posted Zoo Keepers and HUGE HUGS from VEGAS…

  6. puppypaws says:

    oh my do dreams come true? …lets hope so !

  7. Sondra in Snohomish says:

    Thank you for keeping us up to date. Cannot tell you the number of times my daughter and I have tuned into Polar Cam daily hoping to read some great news! Keeping hopes high!! Two would be great, but one will do in a pinch!

  8. Debi says:

    JoAnne, you are so bad! My heart leapt into my throat when I read the first line! I can only imagine the premonitions you must be having, working so closely with her every day. I have had dreams too, of her having cubs and actually seeing the birth…a dark cave in black and white, Chinook moving around and a first cub lying on its side, just born! And when I watched her on the cam a few times I just said to myself, “she knows she is going to be a mommy!”

    I am also enjoying watching the interaction between Kalluk and Tatqiq. They are so funny and loving, so full of sibling playfullness, yet always curious what the other one is doing when they decide to do their own thing for a while. I love Tatqiq bobbing up and down in the water, as she looks under the shelf for her stash of toys and Kalluk dragging his carrots into the water to eat them nice and soaked at stone table! Chinook will shock me if she doesn’t have at least one fluffy wee one! Yet I see her chasing around two!

    I am curious. Since Chinook does not have the stress of having to hunt for food and her weight is good, even though this would be her first cub(s) do these factors increase the possibilities of twins?

  9. Susan (UK) says:

    I thought we’d had baby Polars there! Naughty, JoAnne!! I do so so hope Chinook will have one; or two would be very nice. Lots of good wishes coming your way Chinook.

    I have been lucky enough to catch quite a few bouts of ‘boxing’ between Kalluk and Tatqiq. They are, as you mention, very well matched and really seem to love their bouts of play.

  10. Karen of Chandler says:

    I sure hope Chinook is pregnant with 1 or maybe 2. She is the only one who knows for sure. I love watching the Polar Cam and watching Kalluk and Tatqiq playing in the water.

  11. Carissa says:

    Me too! I thought Chinook gave birth.. don’t do that to us! 🙂

    On a serious note, I’m just as anxious to know if there will finally be an “addition” to the Polar bears.

    How exciting!! I hope so 🙂

  12. Jan in Richmond, VA says:

    Well there is 5 seconds of my life I’ll never get back!! Shame on you!! Please have the “on switch” for the den cam ready to go. We don’t won’t to miss a moment of the excitement.

    Moderator’s note: I had to laugh at your comment, Jan, as I had the same reaction when I first read this!

  13. J.D. says:

    Oh good Lord (standing up and looking for my heart on the floor that JoAnn made jump out of me). Geeez girl, this old person can’t take such news, LOL! Okay you pulled one over on us, but me thinks Chinook will have the last laugh ; ) Keeping fingers crossed for that dream to become reality (soon)!!!!

  14. Lainie says:

    Yippy !! So it appears her ultrasound has not shown signs of being with cub(s), but her demeaner has changed in such a way that she is exhibiting signs of being pregnant. Yayyy !! I keep checking the blogs every day. Been waiting for this update for weeks now. Fingers crossed !! =) Thanx so much JoAnne !!

  15. Debi says:

    JoAnne and J.D.~Maybe Chinook will have the last laugh and present….triplets! 🙂 lol

  16. Susan in NJ says:

    I too was ‘squeeeeing’ here when I read that first sentence. JoAnne you are shameless! LOL!

    I have a few questions 🙂 When do you start a 24 hour watch on Chinook? Do you continue to have a 24 hour watch on Chinook and her cubs for awhile after they are born? Is the den cam equiped with microphones? I never realized how noisy polar bear cubs are until I viewed the videos of a polar bear in a Canadian zoo giving birth and nursing last year.

  17. Cheryl says:

    oh wow — I can’t stop my eyes from puddling or my chin from quivering…. whew! I know I can’t possibly be as excited as everyone at the SDZ — but I think I’m close! I’ll keep my fingers crossed — but I think your dream was a good premonition… I’m betting on twins!

  18. Brenda says:

    Oh, that was so NOT funny! I gasped and my heart lurched into my throat where it’s gone missing! Hahaha. To have cubbies this season…Come on, Chinook!

  19. Ellen says:

    I’ve the two wrestle around in the water, and I’m sure it can be scary for visitors that have not read your blogs. Just wondering, worst case scenario. What would the zoo do if the two really got into it, and wouldn’t stop fighting??

  20. Rose N says:

    Hi JoAnne – I am wishing and hoping that your dream comes true. I have my fingers crossed and I’m adding some prayers too. Thanks for keeping us informed.

    On our last visit to the Polar Bear Plunge, Kalluk was nowhere to be seen, but we knew that he was the perpetrator – the kiddie pool was totally flattened out… again 🙂

  21. Tesa in Raleigh, NC says:

    does that mean she will probably have the babies within october to december this year or next year 2011?

    Moderator’s note: This year.

  22. NancyB San Diego says:

    Now until December 15, this is going to seem like an eternity, but an exciting one.

  23. Shirley Ann says:

    Just a question – when Chinook has her cub(s) and they are old enough to be on exhibit are they going to be separate from Kalluk and Tatqiq for a certain amount of time or will they ever be together in the exhibition area.

    Moderator’s note: We would keep them separate from the other adult bears.

  24. Lisa in Colorado says:

    Fingers still crossed here. May that dream come true.

  25. JoAnne Simerson says:

    #16 Susan in NJ

    We probably won’t have a 24-hour watch unless we see something to indicate we should. We have very good access to her in her den and outer chamber. The camera system we have can record in several places and for as many as 30 days at a time, so we can always retrieve anything that happens. We also can move the cameras from other locations so we can watch her throughout and be ready to respond, if necessary. We will leave Mom and cubs alone and monitor only through cameras for at least the first 72 hours and then until we are confident that all is well.

    Yes, we have microphones in the den and outer chamber room, an important aspect to our gaining more information on mother/cub communication in the den.

    #19 Ellen

    Luckily, we usually see something before it reaches that point that clues us in to a social problem. The play certainly helps with developing the hierarchy as well as being fun. It is thought that the reason the big males in the wild play fight in the fall is so they have a non-lethal way of sizing up the competition before breeding season. Plus, they too seem to have a great deal of fun!

  26. barbara wilkes says:

    I’ve always had a fondness for bears all kinds so fond of them Ive Traveled to Alaska 9 times Ive seen the Great grizzlies mothers and their cubs I thought that was a thrill then I went to polar bear plunge wow! My mom had been there several times she told me Id never be the same after I saw you three bear she was right. thanks to mr. prebys gracious gift for your bears.
    any way I will be back and watching the cam hopeing like every one else for little bears! You guys are the best!

  27. PATTI says:

    OMG My heart skipped when I first started to read the post. I was so excited now I am so so hopeful! Chinook you can do it……………..please!

  28. Mary Anne in NY says:

    Problem with the web cam this afternoon? Nothing comes on but a big white screen “sigh”:(

    Moderator’s note: Our provider has been alerted. Thanks for letting us know!

  29. Mary Anne in NY says:

    thanks it’s all fixed! Now I can have my bear fix!

  30. Debi says:

    Oh my goodness. If Chinook is no longer out on the main exhibit, who is the very muddy bear? Is that Kalluk? He looks like he dipped his face and paws into a big bowl of chocolate icing and had a feast!

  31. cindy in KC says:

    You are Onery Joanne! I did a super close up to the sentence to make sure I read it right,but then came to reality real fast. I love watching the other 2 ‘go at it’ in the pool!

    Baby bear/bears watch seems so far,but yet time is flying by. 🙂

  32. VICKI LAYMAN says:

    I to thought when I first read the blog that Chinook actually gave birth and I sorta of scream not to cool being a Office Manager for a Internal Medicine Dr. Anyway I watch Tatquig and Kalluck play every day I am trying to get to the zoo this Sunday. Just waiting for the weather to cool down. All my hope and prayers for Chinook to give birth.

  33. Jodie says:

    Okay, let’s say we all get lucky and like your dream, Chinook presents us with two little cubs. Will you try to let her to raise both of them or will one be hand raised since it is her first litter and sometimes captive polar bears, like the panda, choose the strongest cub to survive?

    JoAnne responds: If Chinook has twins, she should be able to raise them herself. Female polar bears can give birth to as many as four cubs, although that is very unusual. Her keepers, though, will be there for anything she needs!

  34. anna says:

    so sad that i can’t view the polar cam from this computer… but i will check it out when i get to a different computer… i just love those bears!!!! and i’m hoping that there will be the patter of *little* white paws at the end of the year!!!

  35. Roxanne says:

    This is very exciting news!!! I hope and pray we have little ones soon!!!!!!

  36. Margaret says:

    JoAnne we are all hoping your dream becomes reality in the next few weeks. It would be so exciting.

  37. Hermine says:

    I have been keeping vigil since the first speculations of Chinook being pregnant and will be keeping this vigil going daily until the last possible day she can give birth. This waiting is making me very antsy, but hopefully at the end it would be worth the wait. All we have to do is wait for good news, then spend a few months glued to polar bear cam to see this new edition(s), and finally wait for that very exciting day when the cub(s) makes his/her debut.

    Can I call dibs on any cubs born? If multiple cubs are born, I am willing to bring one home with me. I am not thinking of myself here, but just want to lend a hand to the keepers who would have their hands full 😉

    Moderator’s note: That’s very selfless of you, Hermine. 😉

  38. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Joanne: How often do you ultrasound Chinook now? I know you all will let us know if you see any thing…. but have you? 🙂 This is getting so exciting with the Lun Lun watch and hopefully soon.. Chinook…

  39. Dickie says:

    Well now that my heart has started beating again I can tell you I am also hoping for the real deal soon enough!! Such exciting times. I was on vacation for a week without internet and wondered if the cubs had come and then saw your blog….but soon, real soon now!!!

  40. Debi says:

    Well! Just peeked at the cam in between housework and one of the bears had a good mud bath! Wow! They seem very content with the results and now taking a snooze. Getting dirty is hard work!!

  41. Marie says:

    Wow… did T&K play in the mud? They’re both dirty, but adorable!

  42. Pamda says:

    Great shots of the polars this morning, however, both bears are in full camouflage! What a little dirt will do! Can hardly tell a polar is laying on top of the rock structure.

  43. JoAnne Simerson says:

    #38 Dianna from Ohio

    We are doing the ultrasound exam once a week. We are learning so much about a polar bear’s abdomen! And now perfecting just how much peanut-butter water to give Chinook and how much time before the ultrasound to have her bladder the right size. Really and truly, this is a learning curve. We are really at the forefront of this, and finding a fetus is really challenging in such a big body. Yes, I promise when we find something you will know. Can you imagine keeping it a secret???????

  44. Donna says:

    I have wondered with Kalluk’s rubbing if he has some skin condition since the spot seems to be getting bigger lately and he does have a condition, what could be done for it before there is no hair left there?

  45. shirley t says:

    I just saw on of the bears sitting peacefully in front of the gate, which seems to be open for it to smell the people. Is that true? The bear seems very interested, however I’m sure that there isn’t any way for fingers to poke through. Do the keepers ever hand feed the polar bears, or is it all just left out for them to “find”?

    Moderator’s note: We do have a “movable experience wall” where the keeper calls a bear over to meet some of our guests through a sturdy mesh panel. The keeper can offer treats to the bear through the mesh. And if you watch the video of Chinook during an ultrasound procedure, you’ll notice JoAnne carefully feeding her treats through the bars.

  46. Debi says:

    Awww…is that Kalluk who was at the screen and just got some lettuce for being a good and polite bear? I love them all so much. I think I would burst into tears of joy if I ever saw them in person!

    Moderator’s note: You must come and visit us sometime, Debi!

  47. barbara says:

    I know you took chinook out of main bear pop because she might be with cub, I was wondering how see spends her days now does she have a pool to swim in what is the back part of polar bear plunge look like or is she just in her den? If and when you find out if she going to be a mom how soon will you let all of us polar bear plunge lovers know and last thing to say to Debi # 46 you have got to go you will not be the same I did not want to leave so this next year my family and i are going to become members even though we live in Phoenix we have trips planned all ready Its a must see you wont want to leave them. again you guys are the best ill see you soon


  48. JoAnne Simerson says:

    #44 Donna

    It may be hard to tell, but the fur is growing back. When he’s wet, the fur just doesn’t show much. Also, polar bear fur renews and grows once a year during the bear’s annual molt. Now that it is off season for fur growth, it will take much longer to fill in!

    #47 barbara

    Chinook has four bedrooms, her den, and the polar bear yard to call her own. She also, from time to time, has another two bedrooms that Kalluk and Tatqiq use when they are not on exhibit. Chinook has the pool in the yard and also another one on Kalluk and Tatqiq’s side of the building. She has built a wonderful bed in one of the bedrooms using over a quarter of a bale of bermuda hay. Chinook is spending lots of time either in her yard or in the training crate watching her keepers. Otherwise, she “works” on sleeping in her big hay bed.

  49. Steve in Denver says:

    Hi JoAnne…I don’t know if this question has been asked before but what is the approximate size and weight of a polar bear cub when it is born? Does the mother immediately start caring for it or does she kind of push it aside leaving it up to the handlers to take care of it? My best to Chinook during her hopeful pregnancy. 🙂

    Moderator’s note: Polar bear cubs weigh about 1.3 pounds (0.6 kilograms) at birth. We hope Chinook not need help for any cubs she has, but are prepared to step in, if needed.

  50. lindaluvspandas says:

    I was just watching the cam, usually when I peek in there is no action but one of the bears is in the water. I am unsure which one. He/she? appears to be playing with a rawhide bone. He keeps dropping it in the water. I think he would like someone to throw it and play with him. I will volunteer for that! I hope and pray you get a cubbie or two. Is Chinook on cam at all now? I am fairly new to the polar cam.
    Each time I watch the polar cam it keeps stopping, the panda cam does not do this. Is this normal?

    Moderator’s note: Welcome to the joys of Polar Cam viewing! Chinook is not on exhibit at this time.
    As for Polar Cam, it is an HD camera, whereas Panda Cam is not, and requires your flash player to be version 9.3 or higher. Some DSL connections are too slow to watch live streaming HD video, especially if the network is shared and trying to do other downloads (checking e-mails, other Web pages, etc.) at the same time, something very likely if you are trying to watch from a work computer connected to others. Let us know if you continue to have problems viewing Polar Cam and we’ll see if we can find a solution for you.

  51. Debi says:

    I think it is really neat that Chinook is seeking the company of her keepers right now, like she knows she is changing and her trust in all of you is so complete. It just shows how important it is for us to take care of wildlife because they really do depend on us for their existence and it is our job to be caretakers all, whether at a zoo or in our own backyard.

    Today I have noticed you are getting quite a bit of heavy rain. The bears seem to enjoy it. At least they are white again…for a little while! 🙂

  52. Jan in Richmond, VA says:

    Every time I check the Polar Bear Cam and the Blog, I can’t help but think of that old saying……

    A watched pot never boils.

  53. Steve in Denver says:

    Just curious…will there be any other videos of Chinook getting her weekly ultrasounds? I really enjoyed watching the one that you have posted

    Moderator’s note: I don’t believe so. But it is interesting to watch, isn’t it?

  54. Debi says:

    Oooh! Look at all that lovely leafy green fun in the plunge area to play with! I expect some fun playtime, rolling and napping in the greens and placing on the head to look very spooky! 🙂

  55. sue Martz says:

    Wow, I forgot you have to have a full bladder for the ultrasound. Peanut butter flavored water………would a meat based flavor work better? I bet you all have to be pretty creative with these bears. Is there a way you can test her urine for pregnancy? Like a store bought test strip?

  56. Steve in Denver says:

    The ultasound was by far one of the most interesting and fascinating things I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

  57. barbara says:

    I wanted to share what happen to me at polar bear plunge I told you guys my first visit in many years to polar bear plung was in September of this year like I said mon told me i will never be the same when I walked into the glass area of polar bear land Kalluk was sitting on the carrot rock he was eating carrots so graceful Iapproched the glass he moved forward closer to me I put my hand on the glass he put his paw on the glass where my hand was I took a picture moved back to the glass and gave him a kiss he returned to the glass and put his face to the glass and gave me a polar bear kiss i have the pictures to prove it I told evey one at work I got kissed by a polar
    bear they all thought I was nuts! My next trip to the zoo is the first of the year cant wait to see my bears!!!!!
    Every one that sees them must feel the same way see you next year .

    Moderator’s note: What a neat experience with Kalluk, barbara! Thanks for sharing.

  58. Mary Anne in NY says:

    I am noticing that there are many bugs landing on Tatqiq head and body.. they dont look like flies but then again I am sitting in front of a computer and can’t really tell. And they look like they are a bother to her!

  59. Susan(UK) says:

    I love the way Kalluk is lying tummy down eating his carrots with his right back foot just flicking slightly.

    #57 Barbara, you lucky thing! What an experience, I am so jealous.

  60. Susan(UK) says:

    Actually, Kalluk isn’t eating carrots, he’s got a nice chewy bone. Yum!

  61. Jo Ann in Texas says:

    What happened to Kalluk’s back? Was it shaved for a medical procedure?

    Moderator’s note: He over-scratched during his molt this spring in our training crate and exposed his skin. The fur is slowly growing back.

  62. Daylene in Ohio says:

    Can’t wait to see the little ones. I have a question tho. Is there any way that we can tell the difference between the polar bears? I watch the Polarcam alot. But I do not know which one is which. I have never been to this Zoo, but I love polar bears. This is the only Zoo that I have found so far that has a Polar Cam.So Thank you so much for having this. Now I can see them anytime that I want to. It is my dream to someday come and visit them in person. But for now this will do. Thanks for the info.

    Moderator’s note: Reading their profiles on the Meet the Bears page may help. Also, right now only Kalluk and Tatqiq are on exhibit; Kalluk is much larger than his sister and currently sports a bare spot on his back.

  63. lindaluvspandas says:

    Where is this vidoe of the ultrasoung? I have searched videos but cannot seem to find it? I would love to see it!

    Moderator’s note: Here’s the link to the video of Chinook cooperating during an ultrasound procedure.

  64. Chari Mercier says:

    Hi! What’s the latest with Chinook? Anything new from her ultrasounds? I sure do hope so! After finding out about Lun Lun from Atlanta Zoo being pregnant, I am really hoping and praying that Chinook will show you all something from her ultrasounds very soon! Kepp us updated about her, ok?
    I was reading some of the comments earlier, and spotted one that said that Kalluk was going thru crate training. Is Kalluk going somewhere? Hope not!!
    Gonna go for now. Was just on the polar bear cam, and didn’t see any of the bears on there. Will check the cam later on or tomorrow.
    Chari Mercier 🙂
    St. Pete, FL

    Moderator’s note: No, Kalluk is not going anywhere 😉

  65. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Darn.. for a minute there I was hoping maybe Kalluk was going to visit my zoo…. we have 2 really cute girlie polar bears who need a boyfriend!! 🙂 P.S. Hey Kalluk… we have SNOW in the winter!! 🙂

  66. Cheryl says:

    # 57 Barbara — A polar bear kiss — how lucky are you — but Ms. Chinook might get jealous!

  67. Grace says:

    It appears to be a lazy autumn day for Kalluk and Tatqiq. Both look sleepy and a bit lethargic. Kalluk has been lying on a blue pan of some sort with his beloved dried palm fronds. Tatqiq is looking elegant as usual, resting near the edge of the pool, pondering whether she should dive in. I just can’t seem to get enough of these beautiful, lovable bears!

  68. Marie says:

    # 57 barbara : WOW! That is amazing! I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I see we’d love to see pictures. Thanks for sharing your experience! 🙂

  69. Debi says:

    November 12th keeps sticking in my head, but I have no birthdays or anything planned on that day. Could it be Chinook’s day? I don’t know why…but I have a strange feeling 2 little cubs might be seen that day!

  70. Dianna from Ohio says:

    Moderator: Do you know how long PB’s can hold their breath under water? Also… is there fish in the water for the PB’s to catch… as an enrichment tool? Thanks!

    Moderator’s note: I’ll forward your questions to JoAnne.

  71. Cheryl says:

    I guess I know what I’m doing on Nov. 12th — sticking close the the Polarcam!!

  72. Ron says:

    A couple of questions.
    1) I am sure I am echoing the thoughts of others but why can’t blood or urine tests for various hormones work to determine is our wonderful Chinook is pregnant?
    2) My girlfriend and I are waiting anxiously for this birth and we have been wondering where will news first be posted? On the blog? On Facebook? In the newspapers?

    Moderator’s note:
    1) Per JoAnne’s previous post, Polar Bears: A Quiet Fall?: “We have been participating in a fecal hormone study done by the Cincinnati Zoo’s CREW (Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife). The study is working to develop a test to be able to confirm pregnancy in polar bears and also be able to differentiate between actual pregnancy and false pregnancy. If the current numbers and protocols are correct, then Chinook’s hormones indicate that yes indeed she is pregnant! But at this point this is not a perfect measurement, so again we have a level of uncertainty that only seeing cubs will remove.”
    2) All of those methods 😉

  73. Shirley Ann says:

    The time is now 1:45 Eastern and whoever is on display on the web cam tossed something into the water. It looked like a stuffed something or other.

    Please confirm?

  74. Diane says:

    I, too, am hoping that we see baby polar bears in the near future. But, I just had to write and say how cute the bears are when they roll in the dirt and come up looking like BROWN bears instead of our beloved White polar bears. They are adorable to watch do this – and then it’s time for a swim and they are all clean again!! Thanks to all of you zoo keepers for doing a tremendous job with all the animals at the SDZ!!

  75. Jodie says:

    What is with the bald spot on Kalluk’s back?

    I read Barbars’s post, does he display emotional reactions with his trainers?

    Moderator’s note: See response to comment #61 for info on Kalluk’s back.

  76. JoGGer says:

    Ive been watching the bears antics with much joy for many months but even now despite reading the blogs I still have trouble differentiating…Kalluk’s habit of inflicting a little bald spot on his back ‘helped’ but Im wondering if a small T, C or K could be imposed on the cam ?

    I am also wondering how Kalluk copmares size wise to Chinnok and how big Chinook is in comparison with Tatqiq…

    I know Kalluk is bigger than his sister but probably missed a comparison between the others….

    Moderator’s note: Kalluk is almost twice as large as Tatqiq.

  77. Shirley Ann says:

    Those silly bears have answered my question in 73 – they are having a great time with a rag. They toss it and jump on it. The rag does not have a chance in hell to survive. Poor rag. It is amazing what can amuse those great big bears – they are enjoying life in their own simple way.

  78. Mary Anne in NY says:

    Pic on cam isn’t very clear.. but then again I am in Upstate NY and there is no sun here maybe it’s the sun shinning down on the water?

  79. VICKI LAYMAN says:

    I haven’ had time to read all the blogs but 1st of all I live in Ca, Orange County Anaheim and the camera’s are great clear and larger than they use to be so maybe it depends how close you are to the zoo that’s my only guess. But I am writing to find out how Chinook is doing any good news to tell us how are the ultra sound’s going I just had a patient come in to visit with me and I told him all about our Bears at San Diego Zoo and Chinook how she is the only bear in the world that does not need anesthesia anyway I got side tracked please give us some kind of update on our beautiful Chinook. I am planning to go to the Thankgiving dinner at the zoo will be at the polar bear plunge of course hope to meet some of the keeper’s when I go.
    Thanks Again
    Vicki Layman

    Moderator’s note: No updates on Chinook yet. Rest assured we’ll let everyone know if cubs are eminent!

  80. Jan in Richmond, VA says:

    With the birth of Lun Lun’s 3rd cub, I now need to direct my attentions elsewhere. Like here. How about a new update. Is Chinook eating? Does she lay on her stomach or her side? Anything on the ultrasounds? Is she spending lots of time sleeping. Just any little tidbit would be greatly appreciated. Please…..?

  81. Stacy says:

    Hello, I sure hope she is going to have some cubs soon… How exciting! Is this the first polar bear in the US to have cubs at a zoo? If she has a cub or two or three, how old will the cubs be when they first go on exhibit? Thanks for the updates.

    Moderator’s note: Other zoos have had polar bear cubs, but not as often as you would think. The San Diego Zoo last had a polar bear born in 1986 named Tundra, and she is still at the Indianapolis Zoo. Last year in North America, Toledo Zoo had a male cub born, and Zoo Suavage de St. Felicien in Canada had twins.

  82. barbara says:

    I was just wondering about the water in the plunge is it fresh water or salt water and is it somehow chilled for the bears ? How do you guys clean it . If chinook does have a cub will you make some snow for the papa bear and sister. Barbara

    Moderator’s note: We chill the fresh water in the plunge to 55 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. We don’t have plans to purchase “snow” at this time.