Polar Bears: Waiting Game

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Chinook pauses between doing her morning laps in the pool.

The San Diego Zoo’s polar bear Chinook is keeping us all on the edge of our seats. As we move deeper into November, we are yet to see any definitive behavioral or physiological changes that would tell us that Chinook is pregnant…or that she’s not pregnant! With each passing day, we continue to document what she’s doing and how she’s doing it. Chinook’s den is ready, and we are listening to her and providing her with whatever she needs.

As the weather gets cooler, we expect that she may be more inclined to go into denning mode. Isolating herself in the den is one of the strongest behavioral cues we’d expect to see, letting us know that birth is imminent. Unfortunately, this might happen one month or one day before she gives birth. Our advice to the San Diego Zoo’s extended family of polar bear lovers: stay tuned! We will keep you up to date on any changes we see.

Megan Owen is a conservation program specialist at the San Diego Zoo.

Watch video of an ultrasound procedure being done on Chinook.