The Como Zoo has welcomed a new polar bear to its celebration.
Nan, a 26-year-old female, is being slowly introduced behind the scenes to the St. Paul zoo's other polar bear, 25-year-old Neil, and becoming acclimated to her new home in the Polar Bear Odyssey habitat.
“We are thrilled to welcome Nan to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory family,” said Director Michelle Furrer. "Nan is an important ambassador for her threatened species. When people see and learn more about polar bears, it brings awareness of their plight in the wild.”
At the Como Zoo, Nan will join Neil in serving as ambassadors for polar bears and be each other's companions (they aren't a breeding couple, so there are no baby polar bears in their future).
Como Zoo's new polar bear
In 2008, polar bears were the first species to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act as threatened primarily due to climate change. There are an estimated 22,000 to 31,000 polar bears in the wild, and polar bear numbers are projected to decline by 30% by 2050.
Nan comes to the Como Zoo just in time for International Polar Bear Day on Saturday.
Nan, which is short for the Inupiaq word Nanutaaq, meaning young of a bear, has been all over the country in her 26 years.
She was orphaned and discovered under a house in Burrow, Alaska, when she was a little cub. Wildlife officials determined she was too young to survive in the wild on her own, so she was placed under human care at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, Washington.
She lived at the Washington zoo for nearly five years before moving to the Toledo Zoo, which she called home for 16 years. She then moved to the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, where she's spent the past four years before coming to the Como Zoo in January.
All these moves were based on recommendations by the polar bear Species Survival Plan, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' advisory group, which uses science to manage the population of polar bears in zoos in North America, the Como Zoo says.
Here's Nan playing in the water at the Como Zoo:
And here she is rolling in the snow:
Need more polar bear videos? You're in luck. The Como Zoo can watch her on the Como Zoo's "Como Live" event on Facebook at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday (or go back and watch the video later).