After a naming competition that drew entries from 115 countries, Columbus Zoo has named their adorable polar bear cub Nora.
The name is a blend of her parents’ names (Nanuq and Aurora).
"We are thrilled and inspired that so many people around the world helped name this young polar bear," said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the zoo. "We hope that those who have been watching Nora grow will continue to do so throughout her life, and remember that we all have a role to play in protecting wild polar bears for generations to come."
Nora was born in November last year, and her twin died shortly after birth. She has been hand-reared since her mother began neglecting her.
Columbus Zoo says she receives around-the-clock care and is fed every 4 hours
Female polar bears give birth in winter, usually to twins. Young cubs live with their mothers for some 28 months to learn the survival skills of the far north.
Females aggressively protect their young, but receive no help from their solitary male mates. In fact, male polar bears may even kill young of their species.
Polar bears are very strong swimmers, and their large front paws, which they use to paddle, are slightly webbed. Some polar bears have been seen swimming hundreds of kilometres from land—though they probably cover most of that distance by floating on sheets of ice.
Polar bears live in one of the planet's coldest environments and depend on a thick coat of insulated fur, which covers a warming layer of fat. Fur even grows on the bottom of their paws, which protects against cold surfaces and provides a good grip on ice. The bear's stark white coat provides camouflage in surrounding snow and ice. But under their fur, polar bears have black skin—the better to soak in the sun's warming rays.
These powerful predators typically prey on seals. In search of this quarry they frequent areas of shifting, cracking ice where seals may surface to breathe air. They also stalk ice edges and breathing holes. If the opportunity presents itself, polar bears will also consume carcasses, such as those of dead whales. These Arctic giants are the masters of their environment and have no natural enemies.
Polar bears are attractive and appealing, but they are powerful predators that do not typically fear humans, which can make them dangerous. Near human settlements, they often acquire a taste for garbage, bringing bears and humans into perilous proximity.
[Images courtesy of Columbus Zoo]