The Toledo Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of twin polar bear cubs on Nov. 21. Their mother, 13-year-old Crystal, is caring for the cubs off-exhibit, where the zoo's animal care staff is watching their progress through a monitor in the den.
"This is the fourth litter of polar bears the zoo has had since 2006," said Dr. Randi Meyerson, curator of mammals. "I credit our success to high-quality animal care, the staff's relationship with the animals, the bears' good temperaments and an outstanding facility. When the Arctic Encounter® opened in 2000, it was a state-of-the-art facility, and it still is."
The zoo's cubs have an important future as ambassadors for a species, protected under the Endangered Species Act, which faces grave threats in their native habitat.
"Human activities have a direct effect on polar bears," said Meyerson, "and their plight should encourage all of us to decrease our carbon footprint."
In addition to being the curator of mammals, Meyerson coordinates the polar bear Species Survival Plan established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Through this cooperative breeding and conservation program, zoos nationwide work together to maintain healthy, genetically diverse populations.
Because polar bears are also such charismatic animals, they offer an intriguing opportunity to interest people, particularly children, in engaging with nature and wildlife. The Toledo Zoo features polar bear themes prominently in its year-round education programs, from outreach and on-grounds programs, to distance learning and youth camps.
In October 2012, the zoo also hosted a climate change symposium, where experts from Polar Bears International video conferenced with an audience from a tundra buggy in Churchill, Manitoba, to discuss the impact of climate change on polar bears and long-term impacts.
"As the number of polar bears in the wild decreases, it's more important than ever that cubs in zoo settings serve as ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild. We hope these cubs inspire our visitors to join us in caring for polar bears and their environment," said Jeff Sailer, the Toledo Zoo's executive director.
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