Twin polar bears may be pregnant at Columbus Zoo in Ohio

Oct. 11, 2013 at 1:06 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Officials at Ohio's Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said they have prepared a pair of "maternity suites" for two pregnant polar bears.

Zoo curator Carrie Pratt said twin 6-year-old females Aurora and Anana both mated with the zoo's male bear, Nanuq, 26, in February and March of this year and zookeepers suspect they both might be pregnant after gaining considerable weight during the summer, The Columbus Register reported Friday.

"We're very hopeful," Pratt said. "We're excited and nervous and all those things that first-time parents are."

"We're trying to make everything as perfect as we can, but a lot of it is outside our control," she said. "The tricky thing is that bears also can have pseudopregnancies, where they exhibit all the signs of pregnancy but they're not pregnant."

Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters said other signs the bears might be pregnant are their increased hostility toward Nanuq and more selective eating habits.

The "maternity suites" set up by the zoo each include a den, a pool and an outdoor yard. The bears have been introduced to the environments and have been slowing spending longer amounts of time in them to prepare them for extended stays if they prove to be pregnant.

Zoo officials said polar bears usually give birth in November or December, but any newborn cubs would not go on display until around May.

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