On 9 December 2013 two healthy polar bear cubs were born at Hellabrunn Zoo. The latest news is that they’re opening their eyes.
It is clear to see that the polar bear cubs feel safe and well in their cosy, three-room apartment at Munich’s Hellabrunn Zoo. At the moment they’re starting to explore their home - two litter boxes and a play area in the polar bear maternity den - not yet on foot, but with their eyes. This is the latest development for Mum Giovanna’s cubs - they’re both opening their beady, black eyes and taking in their surroundings bit by bit.
“It really is a joy to be able to follow our polar bear twins’ development on video. Their mother, Giovanna, continues to behave in an exemplary fashion. Day by day the little ones are becoming more active, bigger and stronger which is proof that everything is going to plan,” says Beatrix Köhler, curator and biologist.
Munich’s polar bear cubs have come through the critical first few weeks well. The mortality rate for those first weeks of life is around 70 percent. The twins are now five weeks old; however their gender remains undetermined.
There are high-quality, colour videos from a surveillance camera from their birth onwards. This is a world first and is delighting polar bear fans and scientists alike, who can watch the videos online.
Both of the tiny cubs and their mother, Giovanna (7 years old), will remain protected from the outside world in Polar World’s maternity den for several more weeks. Once a week a trusted zookeeper visits to feed Giovanna some melon or salad and to check - through the bars - how the cubs are doing. Otherwise Giovanna just drinks water, as is normal for polar bear mothers in the wild during the winter months. Giovanna gets this from an automated trough.
“If everything continues to go this well, Giovanna and her babies could potentially go out to explore the tundra enclosure together where there is also a pool in mid- to late March. Then we’d at last be able to see the little darlings in the flesh,” enthused Dr. Andreas Knieriem, zoo director.
Contact with Dad, Yoghi (14 years old), will take place through the so-called cuddling fence. How Giovanna reacts to this will determine whether it will be possible to have a family get together or whether Yoghi will remain separated from his partner and their joint offspring.
The latest footage of the polar bear family cuddling up together and of the cubs opening their eyes is available to view on YouTube ->