‘I wish we understood what happened’: Detroit Zoo staff shocked after polar bear killed

Female polar bear killed during mating attempt

Detroit Zoo staff shocked after polar bear killed during mating
Detroit Zoo staff shocked after polar bear killed during mating

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – A female polar bear at the Detroit Zoo was killed during a mating attempt on Monday.

Staff at the zoo said they’re in shock. A 20-year-old bear named Anana was killed by 16-year-old Nuka.

READ: Polar bear killed at Detroit Zoo

“I wish we understood what happened yesterday with the polar bears,” Detroit Zoo Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carter said. “We don’t understand exactly what happened that caused the conflict that resulted in her death. We are trying to learn as much as we can. The male that she was with has been with other females. He’s the father of the little cubs that we have now. He’s never shown behavior like this towards a female before.”

Carter said both polar bears lived together during the breeding season from March through October of last year.

“When bears and other large carnivores breed, it is sometimes described in nature as an aggressive encounter. It usually involves physical control of the female by the male, which usually includes him holding her by the back of her neck,” Carter said.

Carter said they separated the bears for some time because polar bears like to be on their own. They recently reunited the bears for this year’s breeding season.

“They lived together fine up until yesterday,” Carter said.

The zoo said tissue samples from Anana have been sent to several labs.

The male bear is now living alone.

The Detroit Zoo released a statement late Monday:

About the Authors:

Larry Spruill Jr. joined the Local 4 News team in January 2018. Prior, he worked at WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida. Larry grew up as a military kid because his father is a retired Chief of the United States Air Force.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.