It was celebrations all round at Sea World on the Gold Coast, as two rat-sized polar bear cubs made their debut in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The twins are the third and fourth cubs to be born at the park’s Polar Bear Shores exhibit since it opened in 2000.
Both cubs and mum Liya are currently enjoying the solitude of the maternity den, away from the theme parks other two polar bears, twin brothers Hudson and Nelson.
Each cub weighed in at approximately 600 grams and were given a clean bill of health.
It’s the second time Liya has given birth at the theme park. Her first born Henry in 2013, was moved to Canada two years ago and now lives at a research sanctuary.
Most of the time, a female will have two cubs, however they can have anywhere up to four. Whilst the cubs, born totally blind are completely reliant on their adorning mother at this early stage of life, it will be a totally different story when they open their eyes in around 3 weeks. For now they have been observed suckling milk and snuggling up to mum.
Their keepers are working around the clock monitoring their progress with the use of infrared cameras and microphones. The first few weeks of a cubs life is crucial to its survival and staff are cautiously optimistic.
Trevor Long, Sea World’s Marine scientist, highlights how important the breeding program is and the importance of the parks exhibit. For one, their aren’t a lot of zoological facilities breeding polar bears, and secondly, they have now been listed as ‘threatened’ with around 22,000 – 30,000 living in the wild.
Due to climate change, and shorter winters, the bears are not always able to find a mate to pro-create.
For now, the cubs and mum will remain out of sight, and all going well, should be on display sometime in September. The cubs gender at this stage is also unknown, and probably wont be announced for some time yet.
As with Henry their older brother, Sea World have every intention of holding another ‘name the cubs’ competition.