2 polar bear cubs born, raised at Detroit Zoo for first time in years

Spoiler alert: They are unbearably cute

The Detroit Zoo welcomes its first two, successfully bred polar bear cubs since 2004. The cubs, unnamed as of Jan. 28, were born on Nov. 17, 2020 to 8-year-old mother Suka. Photos provided by the Detroit Zoological Society.
The Detroit Zoo welcomes its first two, successfully bred polar bear cubs since 2004. The cubs, unnamed as of Jan. 28, were born on Nov. 17, 2020 to 8-year-old mother Suka. Photos provided by the Detroit Zoological Society. (Detroit Zoological Society)

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Detroit Zoo is currently in pawsession of two adorable baby polar bears.

For the first time in nearly two decades, polar bear cubs were born and are being successfully raised at the Detroit Zoo. On Nov. 17, 2020, officials say 8-year-old mother Suka gave birth to two polar bear cubs who are now being raised at the zoo -- one by Suka, and the other by staff.

Zoo officials said the cubs, who are currently unnamed, were born in a specially-designed, private maternity den away from the other bears in the enclosure. The den is equipped with infrared video cameras that staff use to monitor the mother and cubs without disturbing them.

Video from the den can be seen below.

The Detroit Zoo announced Thursday it is currently in pawsession of two baby polar bears. The zoo said 8-year-old polar bear Suka had given birth to two cubs in November. They are the first polar bears to be born and successfully raised at the Detroit Zoo in 17 years.
The Detroit Zoo announced Thursday it is currently in pawsession of two baby polar bears. The zoo said 8-year-old polar bear Suka had given birth to two cubs in November. They are the first polar bears to be born and successfully raised at the Detroit Zoo in 17 years.

Days after being born, zoo workers observed that one of the cubs appeared to be inactive and weak. That female cub was extracted and taken for examination by veterinarians. She has since been under human care and has continued to receive around-the-clock care and bottle feeding. Officials say her health conditions have improved: The cub weighed 1.2 pounds at birth and now, as of Jan. 28, the cub weighs 11.3 pounds and has graduated from an incubator to a “playpen.”

Officials said the female cub will eventually live in the Arctic Ring of Life habitat with other bears, though it is not yet known if she can be reunited with her mother and sibling.

Both cubs’ eyes are open, have teeth coming in and are learning to take their first steps, officials said.

One of two polar bear cubs recently born at the Detroit Zoo. The zoo is welcoming its first two, successfully bred polar bear cubs since 2004. The cubs, unnamed as of Jan. 28, were born on Nov. 17, 2020 to 8-year-old mother Suka. Photo provided by the Detroit Zoological Society. (Detroit Zoological Society)

According to the zoo, Suka had previously given birth to cubs in 2018 and 2019, but none of them survived beyond a few days.

Staff said Suka has been an attentive mother to the cub in her care, continually nursing, grooming and cuddling with the baby.

Neither of the cubs are currently viewable by guests; they are residing in private areas for now. The polar bear exhibit is open to the public, but underwater viewing in the Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage is currently closed due to measures in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

One of two polar bear cubs recently born at the Detroit Zoo. The zoo is welcoming its first two, successfully bred polar bear cubs since 2004. The cubs, unnamed as of Jan. 28, were born on Nov. 17, 2020 to 8-year-old mother Suka. Photos provided by the Detroit Zoological Society. (Detroit Zoological Society)

You can learn more about visiting the Detroit Zoo amid the pandemic at their website here.


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Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.