A 725-pound polar bear is now calling St. Paul home.
The Como Zoo welcomed Kulu, who will be 2 on Nov. 28, from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where he gained a following when he was born on Thanksgiving Day 2019, a news release says.
Kulu is settling into his home at the polar bear habitat and is visible in the deep-water exhibit. But he's still being kept separate from the zoo's other two polar bears Nan and Neil until he completes a mandatory quarantine. Then he'll be allowed to join the celebration (a group of polar bears).
The young bear was recommended to come to the Como Zoo by the polar bear species survival plan.
He also comes with a tracking device prototype that's part of the Burr on Fur Program from the Polar Bears International and Minnesota-based 3M.
The tracker is a minimally invasive way of tracking polar bears in the wild. Traditionally, scientists have used satellite collars or trackers that involved surgery.
"The devices designed by 3M represent a major potential step forward — they could be used on all classes of polar bears and would allow us to obtain critical data with the least impact possible," Geoff York, senior director of conservation at Polar Bears International, said in a news release.
These new tags are being tested on polar bears in the wild and bears at nine different zoos, including the Como Zoo.
“We’re beyond thrilled to welcome Kulu, and to be participating in this innovate project," Allison Jungheim, Como Senior Zookeeper and the AZA North American Polar Bear SSP Coordinator said in a statement. “Knowing the designer of the Burr on Fur tag lives so close to us makes it even more sensational.”
Marissa Krouse, programs manager for Polar Bears International said of the Burr on Fur program:
“By working with our zoo partners we can fill key knowledge gaps in polar bear ecology. This project is an excellent example of how zoos can help with polar bear conservation, in this case by helping to validate new technology that will assist researchers in studying wild bears. As the Arctic continues to warm and sea ice melts, creative and innovative advances in research methods and technology are critical to furthering conservation efforts—for polar bears and for wildlife around the globe.”