The Polar Bear World

Kalluk and ChinookWe have just finished another celebration of our bears here at the San Diego Zoo with Bear Bonanza. Thank you to everyone who participated and donated to our bears! One of our promotions was meeting with some of you and talking about our wonderful polar bears. I met blog reader Susan, and I told her that I would write more blogs if you would all write how you are reducing your carbon footprint! This morning I read how three of you are doing this—great job!!!!!! Susan, I am holding up my end of the deal!

First, an update on the famous couple, Chinook and Kalluk. It would appear that breeding season is now over. Our biggest tell-all is that Kalluk is now eating again! He is also showing more independence from Chinook. They both are a bit unsettled, so we think it is just their hormones regulating or going into another stage. If Kalluk were in the Arctic, he would be going off to find another female or finding a good fat seal meal. Chinook would be looking for food. Of course we all want to know: is she pregnant? We won’t know until we see cubs born. We’ll definitely keep you posted on any developments!

Let’s not forget our “princess” Tatqiq. She is doing fine and getting extra-special treatment. She is still choosing to go out with Chinook and Kalluk every day. And each day it seems Kalluk spends more time with her. . .did you see them play together on Saturday?

ChinookPolar bears in the Arctic are beginning an important season. First, females that had cubs are now coming out of their dens and getting out to the ice for their first meals. And this is the first time the cubs are out of the dens and on the ice. The timing is not a coincidence, as in the next month ring seals will also be pupping. These pups are about 50-percent fat and some of the most important food for all polar bears.

KallukIt is also breeding season in the Arctic for polar bears. Here at the Zoo we did a study looking at how polar bears find each other at the right time. Initial results from the study are showing that the scent from the skin pads of the bears has a very important role in determining how they find each other. Kalluk did paw-rubbing behaviors just before breeding with Chinook that we had not seen before. Both of them also were very interested in where each other walked. So our bears, it would seem, confirmed this to be important! A concern is that if wild bears lose the ice, then they lose the area of scent trails. We all must reduce our carbon footprint.

Keep letting us know how you are doing in the carbon footprint challenge or how you are inspiring others to make changes, and I will continue to write updates on our bears more often.

JoAnne Simerson is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Read JoAnne’s previous blog, Polar Bear Breeding Season, Part 2.

Watch the Zoo’s polar bears daily on Polar Cam.