Following a worldwide online poll, a 3-month-old polar bear cub born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium finally has a name.
The name was one of four options the zoo put to a public vote between Jan. 19 and Feb. 3.
Nora, a combination of the cub’s parents’ names, Nanuq and Aurora, garnered the most votes followed by: Kaya, meaning “little but wise”; Sakari, meaning “sweet”; and Desna, meaning “boss.”
The four names had been selected by the Powell-based Columbus Zoo’s animal care staff, and participants were able to cast their vote online once every 24 hours. The cub has gathered a strong following on the Columbus Zoo’s social media pages, where fans have been able to watch videos of her growth.
Participants spanned the globe, with 115 countries represented in the voting. The top five participating countries were the United States, France, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom for a total of 88,061 votes.
“We are thrilled and inspired that so many people around the world helped name this young polar bear,” said Tom Stalf, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo. “We hope that those who have been watching Nora grow will continue to do so throughout her life, and remember that we all have a role to play in protecting wild polar bears for generations to come.”
Nora was born on Nov. 6 in the Polar Frontier region at the Columbus Zoo. Animal care team members had hoped that Aurora would be able to take care of the cub herself, but she eventually began leaving the fragile newborn alone for prolonged periods of time. Under the guidance of the Species Survival Plan, a program created by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the Columbus Zoo decided to intervene and raise the cub by hand.
She has been growing up fast ever since. The cub, who weighed about one pound at birth, now weighs 18 pounds, and has recently been growing up to an inch a week. She has quickly gone from learning how to walk to running and galloping. Staff members have started to introduce her to water via a small tub, where she has been enjoying splashing around.
“While she does possess some of her infant qualities, she is starting to become independent and play with her new, big bear enrichment items,” said Shannon Morarity, assistant curator at the Columbus Zoo.