It's almost time for young Sakari and Suka to say goodbye to their polar bear family at the Toledo Zoo.
The young siblings – born to parents Crystal and Marty in November of 2012 – will be transferred north to St. Paul's Como Zoo in an effort to ensure genetic diversity, the Toledo Blade reports.
A specific date for their departure (and arrival) is still being finalized however, the zoo notes in a press release.
“I have a lot of confidence in them,” Dr. Randi Meyerson, zoo assistant director of animal programs, told the Blade. “It’s a good start to their future.”
Como Zoo's two adult polar bears Buzz and Neil are both neutered, meaning breeding is not an option for them, the zoo said in an earlier press release.
Here's some video from the Toledo Zoo, in the first days the cubs were let out into the exhibit.
In 2012, there were only three polar bear cubs born at zoos in the U.S. accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, ABC 13 reports. Sakari and Suka were two of them, and also the only cubs raised by their mother, the station says. While the siblings were smaller then, they're quite big now – Toledo Zoo Director of Public Relations Andi Norman says they estimate Suka weighs more than 300 pounds, and Sakari more than 400 pounds.
The mother, father and one other polar bear at the Ohio zoo will remain in their current home, the Blade says.
The Associated Press says Sakari and Suka will eventually have to be separated, because polar bears generally live alone; keeping them together could result in family members mating.
The polar bear exhibit at the Como Zoo features a 13,140-foot outdoor habitat intended to emulate the Hudson Bay ecosystem, with a river-washed stream, rocky cliffs, evergreen plants, and large pools of various depths.