Cool at the Zoo: Nora the Beautiful Baby Polar Bear

This post has been updated to reflect Nora’s whereabouts and she’s become quite the well-traveled polar bear (January, 2018).

Time is running out to see Nora the Polar Bear at the Columbus Zoo.  Her last day on view in Columbus, Ohio is September 5, 2016 (Labor Day). She will be moving across the country to the Oregon Zoo. There, she will hopefully be befriended by the resident polar bear Tasul. Tasul is apparently a good natured bear who has been alone since recently losing her brother. Really tugs on the heartstrings, huh?

Nora the polar bear

Nora. She’s 10 months old here.


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Why does she have to leave Columbus?

The zoo team stepped in to care for Nora after her mother showed signs of abandoning her, shortly after she was born back in November, 2015. Under their care, she has thrived. During her time in the habitat, she is active and playful. she swims, dives, and plays with her toys. Which she leaves out all over the place, naturally. She’s basically a furry preschooler.

In the meantine, the adult polar bears have been busy mating. There is hope that more polar bears will be born, as early as November. The polar bear moms need calm and quiet; something that wouldn’t be possible if the active baby polar bear sticks around and shares their exhibit.

Today was our first time seeing her and of course, she’s adorable, all 158 lbs of her! We instantly fell in love and I’m (ridiculously) sad that she’s leaving the Columbus Zoo.

Nora plays

The polar bear cub plays for her admirers.

More polar Bear babies? Yes, please!

With Nora’s departure comes the possibility of more cubs!  She is the first polar bear cub to be born at the Columbus Zoo (and survive) in 27 years. In fact, her twin cub died shortly after birth. Nora fought and survived. She is a beloved member of the zoo. I hope that the Oregon Zoo patrons embraces Nora with as much gusto as Columbus!

Time with Nora is limited

Nora is in the polar bear habitat from around 9:15 am or 9:30 am for roughly an hour. It’s a short window and there is a long line. It moved surprisingly fast. Pro-tip: Not everyone goes downstairs into the underwater viewing area (at least, not on a Thursday morning) and it was much easier to see her playing above.

Sources for this piece are here and here.

Nora swwimming

Nora swimming. This view is from the underwater viewing area.

New in 2016 at the Columbus Zoo – Baby animals everywhere!

As I mentioned here, we love the zoo! However, we needed a break. After taking a 4 month hiatus, we went back and saw all the new things they debuted this year!

The Columbus Zoo also has tiger cubs! They can be seen between 10 am and 2 pm daily.

In the Heart of Africa area, we stumbled upon baby warthogs in an inconspicuous area near one of the stages (cattywampus across from the camel riding arena). They were very cute, too!

Not sure

Part of the new play area!

The biggest change we saw today was the addition of a play area in the yard between the aquarium and manatee buildings. There are many statues to climb and also some fun water play!

Even if you miss Nora, there is so much to do and see at the zoo. And, in the words of my 4 year old, “We can drive to the other zoo to see her!”

Oregon Zoo is 2,450 miles from Columbus Zoo. Maybe we will fly, instead.

Updates on Nora

Nora moved to Oregon and things didn’t go according to plan. She never relaxed around the resident polar bear, the much larger Tasul. Sadly, shortly after Nora’s arrival, Tasul was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and was euthanized. Nora was left lonely and alone again.

However, another polar bear was born in Ohio around the same time. The other bear, fittingly named Hope, came from Toledo Zoo (and the area where I grew up). Both bears now live at the Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City, Utah. The hope is that Hope, a mother-raised bear, can teach Nora everything about how to be a polar bear. Nora’s mother abandoned her at 6 days old and she was raised by a team of dedicated, polar bear loving humans.

Hopefully, with Hope’s help, Nora can be weaned off her medications for anxiety and depression. She is slowly getting used to being around another bear and they are starting to play together. Hope is just what the doctor ordered.

What’s your favorite animal? Where is your favorite zoo? Have you seen Hope or Nora in person?



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