Archive: Female Polar Bear Arrives at Detroit Zoo

5-year-old Suka is new mate for 13-year-old male Nuka

March 5, 2018

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

A female polar bear named Suka, 5, has arrived at the Detroit Zoo from Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisc., based on a Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). She will be paired with Nuka, a 13-year-old male polar bear residing in the Zoo’s Arctic Ring of Life.

Female polar bear Talini, 13, who was born at the Detroit Zoo in 2004, has moved to Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo to be paired with an 8-year-old male polar bear named Siku – also based on an AZA SSP recommendation. Talini and Nuka had been unsuccessful in producing offspring since Nuka’s arrival in 2011.

“It’s hoped that the change of settings and partners may help these bears breed successfully,” said Dr. Randi Meyerson, deputy chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS), who also serves as the AZA’s Polar Bear SSP coordinator.

SSPs are cooperative management programs that work to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species within the 230 accredited institutions that comprise the AZA.

Suka is currently under quarantine and separated from her new mate, but the two will soon be paired, as breeding season is underway.

The Arctic Ring of Life is a 4-acre habitat featuring a grassy tundra, a freshwater pool, a “pack ice” area and a 190,000-gallon saltwater pool. There are multiple viewing options for guests, including from the Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, a 70-foot underwater acrylic tunnel that allows visitors to watch as polar bears and – in a separate underwater habitat – four rescued seals swim in their vast marine environment.