A polar bear cub born at the Toronto Zoo on Nov. 9 has taken his first steps.
“It’s incredible,” wildlife care supervisor Jeff Young said in an interview. “When you can actually see him take those first couple of steps, it’s very, very exciting because it’s just one more of those little milestones seeing him grow up.”
The zoo released a video capturing those steps. The cub has recently reached other milestones: he is starting to play and beginning to teethe.
The 4.4-kilogram bear receives a bottle of milk six times a day but has recently been introduced to a small amount of milk formula in a dish and has taken sips from the dish.
“He feeds really well,” Young said. “He loves to sleep it seems right now as he continues to grow and he’s starting to get his first teeth.”
The cub’s mother gave birth to three offspring two months ago; the cub’s two siblings died under mysterious circumstances at two days old.
The cub himself became gravely ill and transferred to the intensive care unit where he recovered.
“We really can’t pinpoint what happened,” Young said. “Did she (mother) produce enough milk to sustain three? We really don’t know, and that’s the difficulty for us, so we’re trying to liaise with other institutions and develop a plan hopefully for this upcoming season in which we can set her up for success.”
The cub remains in a temperature-controlled environment within the Wildlife Health Centre at the zoo.
“We are very happy with his progress so far,” senior veterinarian Dr. Graham Crawshaw said in a news release. “We hope that he will grow up to become another ambassador for his species, highlighting threats to the arctic environment.”
The zoo is involved in collaborative research projects to help better understand polar bear reproductive biology and provide information to support polar bear education, research and conservation efforts.
The zoo will soon be holding a naming contest for the cub.
He took his first steps Jan. 6.