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Bid to save famous polar bear fails as she heads to Japan soon

By Derek Lambie
05 February 2015

Thousands had joined petition to stop Shilka the cub being exiled to the other side of the world but she could be gone by end of the month.

Shilka was born at Novosibirsk Zoo in December last year, and quickly became a star. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

The first polar bear born in Siberia in 40 years is to be sent to Japan after local people failed in an emotive bid to convince zoo officials to keep her in Russia.

Little Shilka became a global star last year after melting the hearts of animal lovers in a series of cute pictures as she cuddled into her mother.

She even became a celebrity status symbol for the city of Novosibirsk, where she was born, and there was disappointment at news she would be exiled to the other side of the world.

Thousands of people had launched an online campaign to prevent the famous cub being sent abroad, even though the zoo needed 110 million roubles ($1.6m) to keep her.

Now it has emerged the bid to stop the move has failed, and not-so-little-anymore Shilka will travel east to Japan, possibly before the end of the month.

Last year Novosibirsk Zoo director Rostislav Shilo had insisted they would not be letting the cub go for free and instead was hoping to fetch up to $300,000 for her.

Shilka grown up


Shilka grown up


Shilka grown up

It has emerged the bid to stop the move has failed, and not-so-little-anymore Shilka will travel east to Japan, possibly before the end of the month. Picture: Vera Salnitskaya

But he now refuses to divulge whether she has been sold for money, or would simply be exchanged for another animal. He said: 'She will go to Japan, but the exact date will be known in 20 days.'

Shilka was born at Novosibirsk Zoo in December last year, and quickly became a star.

By the age of just 11 months she was already 1.3metres tall and had been separated from her mother, Gerda, in preparation for a new solo life. The separation clearly had an impact on heartbroken Gerda, who walked around her pen looking for her cub.

When it emerged Shilka could be leaving Siberia, thousands put pressure on the zoo director to stop the move. They even pledged to somehow find the 110 million roubles necessary to keep her in Novosibirsk.

The campaign's website stated: 'Shilka grew to become a calling card of Novosibirsk Zoo and she is a symbol, not only of our zoo but of the whole country. People from all over the world have watched her grow.

Back in April, we introduced you to Gerda tenderly cradling her three month old cub in magical pictures from Novosibirsk Zoo. 

Back in April, we introduced you to Gerda tenderly cradling her three month old cub in magical pictures from Novosibirsk Zoo. 


Relax, you are in Siberia


Relax, you are in Siberia


Relax, you are in Siberia


Relax, you are in Siberia


Relax, you are in Siberia


Relax, you are in Siberia



Relax, you are in Siberia

Shilka was born at Novosibirsk Zoo in December last year, and quickly became a star. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya

'We haven’t had polar bear cubs for 40 years, and we don’t want to give this very first one away. Little Shilka is like a mascot for our zoo.'

The issue facing the zoo, however, was the massive cost it would take to keep Shilka in Siberia. Mr Shilo said it would require a new aviary with swimming pool for her, but he stressed the financial situation was 'not good now'.

Meanwhile, there are hopes that Shilka’s parents Kai and Gerda could have another cub soon.

The pair had been separated after the birth last year but they have been reunited in the same pen and keepers hope another new arrival could appear in spring. 

Comments (2)

日本(JAPAN)からです。
Shilka は元気ですよ。
飼育員さんが愛情いっぱいに育てています。
元気でプールで泳ぎ、ファンからもらったおもちゃでいっぱい遊んでいます。
バフィンやモモの気配にも慣れて、たくさんのファンに囲まれています。
みなさん、安心してください。
みみ(mimi), Japan osaka
02/08/2015 20:03
0
0
All zoos are sad. It is very sad to know they will be separated, especially for the mother bear , its bad enough to be in isolation. Or never know the life they were intended for, living wild.
JW, Great Mills,USA
06/02/2015 21:19
6
0
1

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