Brookfield Zoo hopes new polar bear will make love connection

Image 1 of 2

Nan, a 21-year-old female polar bear, made her public debut Monday at Brookfield Zoo, just in time for Valentine's Day. | Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - The Brookfield Zoo is hoping its newest arrival, a female polar bear and hopeful breeding partner, will begin to make a love connection on Valentine’s Day.

Nan made her public debut Monday and is spending Valentine’s Day getting acclimated to Hudson, a male polar bear born at Brookfield Zoo in 2006, according to a statement from the zoo announcing her arrival.

A mesh barrier separates the bears in their behind-the-scenes area as they get the chance to see, smell and get to know each other, according to the zoo. They will be officially introduced on Feb. 27, International Polar Bear Day.

Nan was orphaned and discovered under a house in Alaska. After authorities determined she was too young to survive on her own in the wild, she was placed at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, Washington, where she lived for nearly five years before moving to the Toledo Zoo in Ohio, where she stayed for 16 years.

“As a wild-born bear, Nan is genetically valuable to the North American zoo population accredited by AZA,” Amy Roberts, the zoo’s curator of of mammals, said in the statement.

Polar bears are considered a vulnerable species, and conservation actions are necessary for their survival, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Nan’s move is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Polar Bear Species Survival Plan.