Maryland Zoo Welcomes Polar Bear Cubs

Polar bear cubs Neva and Amelia Gray made their public debut at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on Thursday. The pair are half-sisters who came from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in October.

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Neva and Amelia Gray are half-sisters. Amelia Gray was born on Nov. 8, 2016, to first-time mother Anana. The name Amelia means “defender,” which represents that she is a conservation protector for her species, and Gray is a nod to one of her unique features — a small gray patch of fur located along the left side of her neck. Neva was born a few days later on Nov. 14, 2016 to Aurora. Neva means “white snow” and is also a river in Russia.
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Currently, Neva weighs nearly 400 pounds and Amelia Gray weighs more than 425 pounds. Once they’re full grown, they’ll probably weigh more than 500 pounds, The Maryland Zoo said.
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“These bears are important ambassadors for their species,” said Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager for The Maryland Zoo. “It’s a great opportunity for us to have such young bears because it’s a sign that accredited zoos are working hard together to conserve the polar bear species.”
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Polar bears are native to the circumpolar north, including Alaska, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark. They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and primarily eat seals.
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Polar bear populations are declining due to the disappearance of sea ice, and experts estimate that only 20,000-25,000 polar bears are left in their native range, the Maryland Zoo said in a release. Some scientists believe if the warming trend continues, two-thirds of the polar bear population could disappear by the year 2050.
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The Maryland Zoo said it promotes the conservation of polar bears through education, research and ongoing collaboration with Polar Bears International (PBI), the world’s leading polar bear conservation organization. PBI is dedicated to saving polar bears by saving their sea ice habitat, which is rapidly receding due to global warming.
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Multiple zoo staff members have traveled to Churchill in Canada to observe polar bears in their native environment. Upon their return, staff members become active Arctic Ambassadors, creating and leading initiatives to combat climate change in their Baltimore community.
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The Maryland Zoo sad it also helps advance scientific understanding of polar bears through its participation in multiple research studies that result in improved care of polar bears in zoos and can often be used to better understand and protect endangered polar bears in the wild.
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As Neva and Amelia Gray acclimate to their new habitat, the zoo says their time in public view may vary.
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For updates on the bears, follow The Maryland Zoo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and marylandzoo.org.
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