CHICAGO, Illinois, Feb. 24, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Utah’s Hogle Zoo polar bear Hope has found a new home at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo.
“While Brookfield Zoo has been temporarily closed due to the pandemic, staff welcomed a new addition — Hope, a 5-year-old female polar bear — and the timing couldn’t have been better for this cold-hardy marine mammal,” said a news release from the Chicago Zoological Society. “Since her Jan. 29 arrival, Hope has been enjoying the wintry weather that has descended upon the Chicago area. When the zoo reopens March 1, guests will be able to see her in one of the outdoor habitats at Great Bear Wilderness.”
Hope will eventually be introduced to Hudson, Brookfield Zoo’s 14-year-old male polar bear, the news release said. The introduction is expected to take place over several weeks. It is anticipated the two bears will be together by mid-March.
“Born at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Hope’s transfer to Brookfield Zoo was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Polar Bear Species Survival Plan,” the news release said. “An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.”
Nan, the female polar bear who was most recently at Brookfield Zoo, was recently transferred to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul, Minnesota, also based on an SSP recommendation.
Polar bears are currently listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the news release said. The main threat of the species’ decline is due to reduced access to their main source of food — seal — due to climate change melting the sea ice and other environmental factors. According to researchers, there are approximately 23,000 to 26,000 polar bears living worldwide today, including in and around Canada, Russia, and east Greenland.
Hope’s departure from Hogle Zoo was announced by Gephardt Daily late last month. Moving into Hope’s former enclosure soon will be a male polar bear twice her size named Nikita. Zoo guests should get a first look at Nikita in the early spring.