BALTIMORE — Polar Bears living at the Maryland Zoo will be on the move this fall. The bears, Neva and Amelia Gray will be moving to other zoos as a result of recommendations from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Polar Bear Species Survival Plan. Both bears came to The Maryland Zoo as two-year-olds in 2018 from the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium and are half-sisters.
“At the time Neva and Amelia Gray came to the Zoo, they were almost two-years-old. We knew that at some point as they matured, they would eventually move to other zoos to continue their growth as adult bears,” stated Mike McClure, general curator at the Maryland Zoo. “These two are now almost 5-years-old and at a critical development stage in their lives. After consultation with the leadership of the Polar Bear SSP and other polar bear management experts, we have made the decision to move Neva and Amelia Gray to other zoos to offer them opportunities to further enhance their growth and development into fully mature adult bears in new ways.”
Amelia Gray will be going to the Oregon Zoo in Portland to be a companion to Nora, her six-year-old half-sister. They both share the same sire but have different mothers.
“Amelia Gray is more cautious of her surroundings and needs more time to assess all of the input she receives from her environment,” said McClure. “She also seems to do well having time alone to help her decompress from lots of stimulus. Oregon's new Polar Passage habitat has several different areas and will be able to provide her with her own space as needed and opportunities for continued socialization.”
Neva will be moving to another zoo and will eventually be paired with an older male polar bear. “Neva has experience being around a male since she had a brother to compete with who was almost twice her size, and she is more assertive in her behavior,” continued McClure. “Neva tends to solicit interaction from Amelia and we felt she would be more comfortable engaging with a male which would likely lead to more successful breeding.”
The habitat sections at Polar Bear Watch will now be solely for the use of the grizzly bears.
“Prior to the arrival of the polar bears, we took in two orphaned grizzly bear cubs and made an agreement with Montana Fish & Game to provide a home for them for their lifetimes,” continued McClure. “The agreement to provide lifelong care for the grizzlies was just one more factor in our decision to move Neva and Amelia Gray.”