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Snow the polar bear makes debut at zoo

Visitors catch a glimpse of Reid Park Zoo's newest addition

Snow the polar bear, Reid Park Zoo's latest edition, made her debut Monday as she spent more time exploring her new habitat, the zoo announced.

Zoo visitors now have a chance to glimpse the bear who came to Tucson on Thursday from SeaWorld Orlando, said Vivian VanPeenan, a spokeswoman for the zoo, in a press release.

The 500-pound bear and star of the PBS documentary "Klondike and Snow: A Tale of Two Polar Bears" is getting to know her habitat, VanPeenan said.

By 1:30 p.m., Snow was enjoying her new home and could be seen by zoo visitors, VanPeenan said.

"She came out and explored," Van Peenan said in an interview. "She's enjoying her grassy backyard."

Snow is allowed to go between her behind-the-scenes enclosure and her public habitat as she acclimates to her new home, VanPeenan said.

"She's really a mellow bear. We're thrilled with how well she's settling in," she said.

Snow and her brother Klondike are already stars in the animal world. After their mother failed to care for them, staff at the Denver Zoo raised the cubs from birth by hand. They've been featured in films, books and a PBS documentary, "Klondike & Snow: A Tale of Twin Polar Bears."

The zoo is allowing the 17-year-old to acclimate to her new world at her own pace, which she seems to be doing quickly, said Alisha Brewer, on of Snow's keeepers.

"She seems to be making herself at home. She is eating well, exploring every inch of her space, and is moving enrichment items around to her liking," Brewer said in the press release. "We are thrilled to have her her.

Snow was moved to Tucson with the hopes that the desert climate will help her chronic skin allergies. The zoo has been successful in the past with treating dermatitis in polar bears, VanPeenan said.

Reid Park Zoo veterninarian Dr. Alexis Moreno is performing allergy testing on Snow and will monitor her dermatitis and other health conditions, VanPeenan said.

The zoo will celebrate Snow's arrival on Feb. 26, International Polar Bear Day. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be activities and demonstrations by staff, docents, volunteers and members of the Fin Foundation, which works to educate those living in the desert about marine science.

Reid Park Zoo's last polar bear, Kobe, moved to Pittsburgh in November 2011 to meet her arranged mate, a 7-year-old bear named Koda.

In December 2010, the zoo lost 11-year-old Boris who died after a bad reaction to anesthesia during an examination.

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SeaWorld Orlando

Reid Park Zoo visitors will have the chance to see Snow, pictured at SeaWorld Orlando, as she tests the waters of her new Tucson habitat Monday.

If you go

  • What: Reid Park Zoo
  • Where: Reid Park, 1100 S. Randolph Way
  • When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., everyday through May; 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., June through August
  • Admission: $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $3 for children 14 and younger
  • For more information, call 791-4022 or visit the zoo's website or Facebook page.