Tallinn Zoo polar bears mourn loss of newborn son

Polar bears Rasputin and Friida.
Polar bears Rasputin and Friida. Source: Annika Tammur

Tallinn Zoo polar bears Friida and Rasputin are mourning the loss of their newborn son, who died despite the best efforts of his mother.

"She is crying. Crying and searching. Walking and looking around. She does not have much of an appetite. She is snacking, but she is sad," Tallinn Zoo animal husbandry adviser Anne Saluneem told ETV's current affairs show "Ringvaade" on Thursday evening.

Friida had a normal pregnancy. At the same time, she has previously experienced a loss of one of her sons due to thee cold. Saluneem noted that zookeepers were worried about the pregnancy and hoped things would improve until the very end.

The cause of the newborn's death is still largely unknown. "We do not know if something happened during the birth, but his abdomen was full of blood. He had a torn liver and the umbilical cord was completely gone, so there was a hole," Saluneem said.

An autopsy later showed that the bear cub never ate. "The stomach was empty. But it was in full force - 550 g, as these bear cubs are. Tiny with a thin coat of hair. Sad," Saluneem said.

Friida is set to meet with Rasputin again next spring and the zoo hopes the relationship between the polar bears results in more offspring. Friida has raised a son - Aron - who now lives in the La Fleche zoo in France.

Friida, a resident of Tallinn Zoo since December 2002, has welcomed Rasputin pleasantly to his new home. Raspi arrived from the Yorkshire Wildlife Park as part of an European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EZEA) program in November of last year.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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