5/31/2012 4:04:55 PM

Siku at 27 Weeks

Siku is now six months and one week old. He now weighs 40 kg. He is still drinking the same amount of milk, but we are slowly increasing the amount of meat we give him. Cow heart is still his favorite.

Siku playing

The warmer weather means more swimming. Siku is now going into the pond more deliberately, and not just because he is chasing one of his logs. He has been trying to dive to the bottom a lot. But being a polar bear, he is very buoyant and he is having some trouble getting his back end under the water. It's so funny to see only his tail sticking out of the water, while the rest of Siku is underwater trying his best to reach the bottom! He has succeeded a couple of times, and he will soon get the hang of it.

Playing in his pond

We've given Siku some new big logs, and we've built two new shelters for him so that he has some shade. He loves jumping on the big logs, but he hasn't figured out that the shelters are for shade, not just for biting, jumping and trying to crawl on top of them. But he is having so much fun, so we don't care. If he needs the shade, he will figure it out.

 Siku eating grass

Every day we see him becoming more and more independent. The other day Frank came back after three days away from the park. When he returned, he went to see Siku. Siku was sleeping at the time, and as Frank approached he clearly recognized him, got up, walked two meters and fell back asleep. There was no running around, calling out or anything to indicate that he was excited to see Frank. We were so proud of him at that moment, because it means that he is developing in to a relaxed, secure and independent polar bear.

A lot of people have expressed concerns about Siku playing on his own, and that he doesn't have a playmate. But for a polar bear cub with no siblings, it's perfectly normal that Siku plays on his own. Even if Siku was still with his mother, she would not be entertaining him all the time, so neither are we. Instead we try to give him a stimulating environment and allow him to explore and play on his own—which he is actually really good at! Giving him another companion like a dog or another animal would only confuse him about his own species. The best thing for Siku is that he is treated like the polar bear he is, and not as a pet. He is not alone, though. One of his three human caretakers are always there to give him the support and contact he might need. But he never seems to need it - perfect!

Here are answers to recent questions that people have asked:

Is Siku just chewing on the grass or is he really eating it? If he is eating it, what is the significance of that behavior for polar bear and does it have any benefits?

Siku is a curious little polar bear, and he will mouth and taste everything around him. Some of it will come out again and some will be eaten. The grass, clover,and other plants in the enclosure usually will be eaten. We think he does this because he likes the taste of it, A polar bear's digestive system isn't equipped to getting nutrients out of plants, so even though it is perfectly safe for him to eat, it only has limited nutritional value for him. We only rarely see the adult polar bears eating plants. Polar bears in the wild spent most of their lives on snow and ice, and even though they will encounter grass or other plants in the summer, plants are not a significant part of a polar bears diet. 

Does Siku still have his favorite stuffed polar bear that he used to sleep with when he was a baby?

No he doesn't. We had to take it away from him after he stopped sleeping with it and instead took it swimming in his pond several times. We were afraid that the stuffed bear would end up in the pipes in the water system, and he is so big now that he doesn't need that to cuddle with any more.

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