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Henry Vilas Zoo Welcomes New Polar Bear

November 23, 2016
Stephanie Miller 608-267-8823
County Executive

Polar bears from three North American Zoos Trade Places to Help Save the Species


MADISON-- November 22, 2016 – Henry Vilas Zoo announced last week the departure of male polar bear Sakari. The zoo is now happy to announce the arrival of a new female polar bear, Berit, who will soon join Suka in Arctic Passage. Sakari, brother to Suka, has safely arrived at the Buffalo Zoo, taking the place of Buffalo’s Zoo, Anana, who moved to the Cincinnati Zoo. This multi-zoo shuffle took place based on recommendations by the polar bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) advisory group that manages the population in North American Zoos.


“We are thrilled to welcome Berit to the Dane County Henry Vilas Zoo family,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi . “Polar bears are threatened in the wild, which is why it is so imperative zoos work together to provide the best possible chance for species reproduction and survival. Zoos are one part of the conservation effort to help save polar bears. ”


Berit, a 17-year-old female, has been at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden for 16 years. AZA and the polar bear SSP recommended the trade when it became clear that Berit and her mate, 26-year-old Little One, were not going to produce offspring. 17-year-old Anana, who has been deemed a breeding match for Little One by the polar bear SSP, moves from Buffalo to Cincinnati to join Little One in hopes that they will produce cubs in the near future. Sakari will join Anana’s cub, Luna, at the Buffalo Zoo to be a companion and possibly a future mate.


“While we are sad to see Sakari go, we know that we are helping preserve the population of polar bears in North America by sending him to the Buffalo Zoo to be with Luna,” said Schwetz. “We are very excited to have Berit join our family and are look forward to working with Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) to learn about advanced artificial insemination (AI) techniques for polar bears in hopes of produce cubs in the future.”


Visitors will soon be able to see Berit and Suka in Henry Vilas Zoo’s Arctic Passage exhibit. Be sure to follow the Henry Vilas Zoo on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of when Berit will make her debut to the public.




About CREW – The Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is a global leader in wildlife conservation. Established in 1991 as the first institution of its kind focused on both plant and animal conservation research, CREW is dedicated to “Saving Species with Science”. World renowned for its accomplishments with its four Signature Projects – endangered rhinoceroses, imperiled small cats, exceptional plants and polar bears – CREW also conducts substantial research with a few select other species. These conservation efforts, involving a diversity of scientific disciplines and multi-institutional collaborations, are expanding our understanding for species biology, enhancing reproduction and genetic management, and ensuring a future for wildlife.


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