Though a full grown male can grow to be 720 kilograms (1600 pounds), polar bear cubs start life at only about 454-680 grams (16-24 ounces). Twins and single births are the most common litter sizes, though triplets do occur less frequently, and quadruplets happen on rare occasion. The first month of the cub’s life are pretty helpless, as their eyes are closed, their fur is too short to keep them warm for long periods of time without their mother, and they are not able to move with any speed or agility. After two weeks, the cub’s ears open and pink skin on the paws and snout begin to turn black.
The Toronto Zoo celebrated the birth of a male polar bear cub on November 9, 2013. He was one of three in the litter, but his brothers sadly passed away within 48 hours of birth, despite getting care from the mother. When the staff noticed the health of the remaining cub declining, the difficult decision was made to separate the three-day-old cub from his mother and was admitted to the zoo’s Wildlife Health Centre (WHC) where he could receive more advanced care for the first three months of his life.
Though the little guy is not completely out of the woods and still requires plenty of care, he has been been making considerable progress. He has been feeding about seven times per day, allowing him to increase his strength. His coat has been growing in thicker and he has been hitting milestones right on target. Polar bear cubs typically require care from their mother for the first 28 months of life, but the zoo has not announced what they plan to do after the cub is over 3 months old and does not require the extensive day-to-day care of the WHC. The cub will not be reunited with his father, as male polar bears are solitary animals and will kill cubs, even their own.
Last week, the Toronto Zoo released a video of this polar bear cub taking his first steps at 58 days old. Learning to walk is no easy task and you can hear him cry out in frustration, but it is seriously adorable. Check it out here: