Three newborn polar bears died at the Toronto Zoo less than a week after they were born. The first male cub passed away shortly after birth, while the two female cubs died during the night on Saturday.
The zoo released a statement about the polar bear cubs’ deaths, saying that their 11-year-old mother, Aurora, was nursing the two female cubs after the male passed away and that “all was going well,” reports Yahoo! News.
The bears were born on Thursday. Unfortunately, nursing and constant monitoring of the cubs were not enough to keep the female newborn cubs alive.
The Toronto Zoo’s statement added that they are not sure how the newborn polar bears died, though tissue samples have been sent out for analysis to determine cause of death.
CBC notes that, despite the tragedy of the cubs’ deaths, there was a silver lining in that Aurora showed maternal instincts for the first time after rejecting three cubs last year. Only one of those cubs survived. Maria Franke, the zoo’s curator of animals, stated:
“The fact that Aurora was doing everything right this time is a huge step in the right direction.”
The Toronto Zoo added of their polar bear study:
“The information gained throughout Aurora’s breeding has allowed us invaluable information that we can learn from and share with our counterparts.”
The newborn polar bear deaths are a sad turn, not just in the fact that they are lost, but in what it may mean for the species. The massive arctic mammal is considered critically endangered. There are roughly 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the world, the majority of which live in Canada.