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Polar bear cub at Toronto Zoo takes his first steps

Though a full grown male can grow to be 720 kilograms (1600 pounds), polar bear cubs start life at only about 454-680 grams (16-24 ounces). Twins and single births are the most common litter sizes, though triplets do occur less frequently, and quadruplets happen on rare occasion. The first month of the cub’s life are pretty helpless, as their eyes are closed, their fur is too short to keep them warm for long periods of time without their mother, and they are not able to move with any speed or agility. After two weeks, the cub’s ears open and pink skin on the paws and snout begin to turn black. Though the little guy is not completely out of the woods and still requires plenty of care, he has been been making considerable progress. He has been feeding about seven times per day, allowing him to increase his strength. His coat has been growing in thicker and he has been hitting milestones right on target. Polar bear cubs typically require care from their mother for the first 28 months of life, but the zoo has not announced what they plan to do after the cub is over 3 months old and does not require the extensive day-to-day care of the WHC. The cub will not be reunited with his father, as male polar bears are solitary animals and will kill cubs, even their own.

The Toronto Zoo celebrated the birth of a male polar bear cub on November 9, 2013. He was one of three in the litter, but his brothers sadly passed away within 48 hours of birth, despite getting care from the mother. When the staff noticed the health of the remaining cub declining, the difficult decision was made to separate the three-day-old cub from his mother and was admitted to the zoo’s Wildlife Health Centre (WHC) where he could receive more advanced care for the first three months of his life. Last week, the Toronto Zoo released a video of this polar bear cub taking his first steps at 58 days old. Learning to walk is no easy task and you can hear him cry out in frustration, but it is seriously adorable.
In January 2016, a calf carcass went missing. Its owner, a conservation biologist by the name of Evan Buechley, left the corpse in the soil of Utah’s Great Basin Desert to record scavengers. By scavengers, he suspected coyotes, perhaps even vultures. What he did not expect was the true culprit – a badger. Check out the video above. “This adds more questions than it answers,” Buechley added. “The nutrients in a carcass can be very important for many different organisms in an ecosystem. So if badgers are monopolizing them and they have the ability to bury perhaps any mammal carcass in North America and they’re present across much of the continent, the potential ecological implications are profound.” The 50-pound calf was buried over a 5-day period, which researchers say is a caching method used by badgers to hide food from other scavengers and to make the animal meat last longer, sort of “like putting it in the fridge.” Such underground food stores keep the meat cooler than the sun-baked dirt above, slowing decomposition and providing safe storage for future consumption.

That’s right. An American badger buried a bovine calf in what appears to be the first recorded footage of such an event. The study is published in the Western North American Naturalist. “We know a lot about badgers morphologically and genetically, but behaviorally there’s a lot of blank spaces that need to be filled,” says first author Ethan Frehner of the University of Utah in a statement. “This is a substantial behavior that wasn’t at all known about.” While scientists knew badgers cached rodents, squirrels, and even rabbits, they’ve never seen one conceal something quite so large – in this case, a creature roughly three to four times the weight of the badger itself. These stocky gravediggers are well-adapted to the task though, with powerful forelimbs, sharp claws, and a third eyelid to keep the dust of digging out.  So what happened to the rest of the cow after burial? The badger constructed a den near its cache, where it feasted on its beef banquet for 11 continuous days. From then on, the badger only left the burrow from time to time, finally abandoning the site in early March – 52 days after burial. To make matters even better, the team observed a second badger trying to bury another calf carcass. This suggests the behavior could be more widespread than the single incident caught on video. This also means American badgers could be influencing the nutrient cycling across North America to a greater degree than previously believed.

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