COLUMBUS, Ohio — Missing springtime trips to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium?
Though you can’t visit right now, as it remains closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the zoo is offering fans an opportunity to name its 4-month-old male polar bear cub from home.
He’s a “60-pound furry ball of energy,” according to his keepers.
You can choose from the following names in an online poll:
• Corky, to celebrate the 160th anniversary of Minik, the Inuit word for “splash,” because the cub is a talented swimmer and loves jumping into the water.
• Kulu, an Inuit term of endearment, honoring the bond between him, his zookeepers and his mother, 13-year-old Aurora.
Visit columbuszoo.org/namethecub to cast your vote.
The winning name will be announced on April 22, the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. April 20.
The cub, born Nov. 28, 2019, was the only baby polar bear born at any North American zoo last year. Since 2015, 11 polar bear cubs have been reared in North American zoos, eight in the U.S., according to the association.
Columbus has had four cubs, the most of any institution.
The newest cub’s father is 20-year-old Lee, who moved to Columbus in 2018 from the Denver Zoo. This is his first cub. Aurora, meanwhile, has birthed three other healthy cubs that are now living at other zoos — Nora, born in 2015, and twins Neva and Nuniq, born in 2017.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a nonprofit group of more than 230 accredited institutions in the U.S. and abroad, including the Columbus Zoo, recommends breeding pairs to increase the genetic diversity of polar bears in human care.
It’s estimated only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears are left in the wild, and that number will continue to decline, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. In 2008, polar bears were listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, due to climate change and the expected loss of the sea-ice habitats in which they hunt.