In early October, the Zoo announced that you might not be able to see female polar bear Anoki on exhibit for a few months due to denning season. (You can catch up on what denning season is and what it means for Anoki here). Recently we caught up with the polar bear team to bring you a behind-the-scenes look at what Anoki has been up to since denning season started.

What has Anoki been doing since denning season began?

In the first weeks of the denning season she started spending the majority of the time sleeping in the off exhibit denning area, although she would venture out to the exhibit at times. This past week she has been in the denning area constantly.

How do you monitor Anoki in the den?

Keepers use a surveillance camera system to monitor Anoki, the system also records. Each morning when the keepers arrive at the polar bear building, they review the previous night’s footage. They have a log sheet where they can record any significant behaviors that they see.

What types of behaviors are you looking for?

Each time the keepers see the following behaviors they also note the time and the bear’s location.

  • Sleeping
  • Resting
  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Active
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Urinating
  • Defecating
  • Nesting
  • Grooming
  • Stretching
  • Restlessness

How are keeper interactions with Anoki different during denning?

They are much less interactive with Anoki so that they do not disturb her. They monitor her via the surveillance camera so she does not see the keepers. Her training program is also suspended during the denning season.

When does denning season end?

IF she were to have cubs then the season would end when they emerge from the den. If she does not have cubs then it will end when keepers are confident she is not going to give birth based on Anoki’s behaviors.