Polar bear twins bring joy to Ouwehands Zoo!

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We’re living in bizarre times, where the coronavirus has the entire world in its grip and everyone is advised to stay inside. Ouwehands Zoo has closed its gates for the foreseeable future, in line with national policy. In the meantime, life in the zoo goes on. The animals awake each morning, the trees blossom and two carefree polar bear twins venture outside for the very first time. It’s a moment we've been waiting for.

Undercover for months
The polar bear twins and the mother were allowed into their outdoor accommodation for the first time on Wednesday morning, 18 March 2020. The twins were born in their maternity den on 27 November, and that’s where they stayed. They have grown considerably and are now ready to go outside. The mother and her young stayed inside the maternity den, where it's dark and barely any outside noise gets in. In this way, the animals’ natural habitat is mimicked. Even the keepers could monitor the young bears’ progress by video only. All the footage has been recorded and will be used for research into the development of young polar bears and maternal behaviour.

Gender still unknown
At the moment, there are five polar bears at Ouwehands Zoo. The three adults are all female, three generations. Freedom, the middle one, gave birth to the twins in November 2019. Their gender still unknown. The keepers hope to find out when they go swimming, which they are expected to do very soon.

Name competition
When the gender is known, we can finally name the young polar bears. Ouwehands Zoo held a naming competition, and everyone was invited to take part and suggest names. The keepers have selected four winning names from the entries, two for males and two for females. Males will be called Yuka and Atlas, and females Yura and Nova. Ouwehands Zoo will provide updates through its social media channels and on its website.

Ouwehands Zoo temporarily closed
Ouwehands Zoo has contributed to the preservation of this endangered species through a successful European breeding programme over the past years. Polar bear twins have been admired at the zoo before, and the first time they go outside has always been very popular among both visitors and the press. Unfortunately this year, due to measures in response to the coronavirus, they have been unable to witness this wonderful moment. The zoo is temporarily closed until at least 6 April 2020. We are currently working with minimal staff, in small teams that remain separate from each other. Ouwehands Zoo hopes to be able to welcome guests to enjoy the zoo and its animals in better times soon.