The Detroit Zoo has reunited two twin polar bears after they were separated at birth following a medical emergency nearly three years ago.
The twin bears, named Astra and Laerke, had been separated since just a few days after their birth when an emergency required Laerke to receive special care 24/7, making it impossible for her to stay with her parents and sibling. By the time Laerka recovered enough to join her family, the twins’ mother, Suka, no longer recognized her.
“Suka is a great mother and very protective of Laerke’s sister, Astra, but it’s clear that she no longer recognizes Laerke as her cub,” Scott Carter, chief life sciences officer for the Detroit Zoological Society said in a 2021 press release. “Returning Laerke to her mother and sister is not an option for us.”
Because of this, Laerke has been in a separate area of the zoo since her birth in November 2020. Now, 2 1/2 years later, the siblings are back together and the Detroit Zoo says in a Facebook post that they’re “making up for lost playtime.”
Sharing photos of the siblings on Facebook, the zoo says that mom Suka and their father Nuka are also living together, but in a separate side of the habitat.
Just two days after the first post, the zoo shared an update on the bears, posting a video on Facebook that showed them running around and playing in their habitat — and even going for a swim together.
“Even though they have only been back together for a short time, you can already see that twin sisters Astra and Laerke are each other’s cup of tea,” the zoo posted. “Come to the Detroit Zoo for your chance to see these polar bears grow closer day by day.”
Before the reunion, Laerke had been placed with a grizzly bear named Jebbie, who was found orphaned in Alaska and brought to the Detroit Zoo. The two were successfully socialized together and became good companions. However, they had to be split up by March 2022 — Jebbie was getting too big and would sometimes get rougher than Laerke preferred. In any case, the two were never intended to live together forever.
For a time the two childhood pals were still able to see each other from their respective habitats and could interact indoors. By January 2023, though, Jebbie had been moved to Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, where he is reportedly thriving alongside other grizzlies in his new home.
It’s nice to see all the bears are doing well!