DENVER – The Denver Zoo announced two of its polar bears will be temporarily moved to be paired with new mates in hopes of producing offspring.
The Zoo says Cranbeary and Lee will leave this fall to relocate to two different zoos at the recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP). The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan is an organization that oversees population management, implements breeding programs of select species and more.
Cranbeary is a 16-year-old female and will leave this October to make her way to the Alaska Zoo.
Her mate Lee, an 18-year-old, will leave later this fall and make his way to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo says its leadership and Board of Governors are committed to bringing polar bears back to the zoo.
“Polar bears are an iconic species and have a long and storied history at Denver Zoo, and we know they’ll be missed by our staff, volunteers, donors and the community,” said Hollie Colahan, vice president for animal care at Denver Zoo. “Denver Zoo is committed to all of our animals, and while our polar bears receive excellent care, it’s important that they are paired with mates who may prove to be better breeding partners. The decision to relocate Cranbeary and Lee will benefit the welfare of both polar bears in the long run. ”
According to a release, there are only 44 polar bears in North American zoos, as the species faces serious threats living in the wild. The Denver Zoo is a part of a number of Species Survival Plans working towards breeding and facilitating the survival and security of the species long-term.
In the meantime, the current polar bear exhibit will be repurposed as a new home for two of the zoo’s grizzly bears. Kootenai and Tundra will be moved from “Bear Mountain” to the existing polar bear exhibit, which the zoo says will provide an improved and more suitable habitat for them.
The Denver Zoo invites the public to say goodbye to Cranbeary and Lee and learn more about the protecting the species. Zookeeper talks will be held in front of the polar bear exhibit every Saturday and Sunday starting October 6.
The zoo did not comment on when the polar bears are expected to return.
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