It's been a long year, but a familiar face is finally back where he belongs at the Detroit Zoo.

After a year away from the Detroit Zoo Nuka the polar bear will return to the facility, zoo officials announced on Wednesday. Nuka, who had lived at the Detroit Zoo since 2011, seemed to settle back into his old stomping ground easily.

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We told you back in December that Nuka traveled to the Toledo Zoo in March of 2022 to be part of the mating process with a polar bear there. Nuka was part of successfully breeding two cubs with the female polar bear Crystal, and they welcomed the twins in December.


Nuka successfully mated with the Detroit Zoo's female polar bear Suka, resulting in the birth of twins Astra and Laerke on November 17, 2020. The SSP recommended Nuka’s transfer back to the Detroit Zoo, a cooperative population management program that helps ensure the sustainability of healthy captive animal populations. This program is vital to sustaining polar bear populations in zoos and has resulted in many successes, including the births of all Nuka’s cubs.

"Now that he has completed his quarantine period, Detroit Zoo officials hope Nuka’s return will again result in a successful coupling with Suka", Detroit Zoo officials said in a press release. 


Sadly in February 2021, the zoo's female polar bear Anana died during a breeding attempt. At first, there was thought that Nuka may have caused her death, but this was not the case. According to zoo officials, after an in-depth review in March 2021, it was discovered that Anana died from advanced heart disease. Her heart tissues showed that she experienced acute heart failure or a fatal arrhythmia before or during breeding attempts.

The Detroit Zoo notes that there are currently only about 55 polar bears in 25 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums. Detroit Zoo officials are thrilled to welcome Nuka back so he can continue to be a part of ensuring the future of polar bears.

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