Female Polar Bear Killed by Male at Detroit Zoo During Breeding

by Jon D. B.

Detroit Zoo and conservationists the world over are suffering a terrible loss as female polar bear Anana is killed during mating.

After a remarkable decade in polar bear conservation, The Detroit Zoo has been struck by tragedy. One of their breeding female bears, Anana, was killed Monday by male Nuka. According to the organization’s press release, there was no history of violence between the pair before Anana’s death. She was 20 years old.

“This was completely unexpected and the Detroit Zoo staff is devastated by the loss of Anana in this sudden and tragic event,” states Detroit Zoological Society’s Chief Life Sciences Officer Scott Carte.

Moreover, the zoo adds that Nuka has been a resident since 2011. During this time, Nuka bred with other female polar bears without incident or violent behavior.

Through 2020 and early 2021, Anana and Nuka lived together “without incident” in the Arctic Ring of Life, Carte adds. This remarkable exhibit is the world’s largest polar bear exhibit, and plays a key role in the species’ survival through captive breeding. Here, Detroit Zoo’s bears have 4.2 acres to roam.

Anana, 20, and Nuka, 16, came together last week by AZA’s pairing. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Polar Bear Species Survival Plan matched the pair. Through pairings like this, AZA’s program aims to sustain the endangered species.

Detroit Zoo’s Polar Bear History

Nuka previously fathered two polar bear cubs at The Detroit Zoo with a different mate, an immense success for the organizations.

The killing of a resident animal by another is an extreme rarity at Detroit Zoo. Anana’s death is the first of this nature since 1988. This previous incident also involved polar bears, Detroit’s ABC affiliate cites.

Furthermore, the zoo’s website goes into great detail on their conservation work and habitat for these incredible bears.

“Visitors can watch polar bears gracefully swim above their heads in the Arctic Ring of Life’s 70-foot-long Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage,” the zoo begins. “Female Suka was born in 2012 and [came to] the Detroit Zoo in 2018 to join male Nuka, who was born in 2004 and arrived at the Zoo in 2011.”

The site then goes on to state that “Female Anana, who was born in 2000, [came] in early 2020.” Detroit Zoo has yet to update its website after her death.

In addition, the bears’ habitat includes grassy tundra, a freshwater pool, and a ‘pack ice’ area. Moreover, the bears have access to a 190,000-gallon saltwater pool. The site also notes that the polar bears live in tandem with Arctic foxes within the Arctic Ring of Life successfully. “This state-of-the-art, interactive facility encompasses more than 4 acres of outdoor and indoor habitats.”

Our condolences to the hard-working staff at Detroit Zoo amidst all their conservation efforts.