Nora the Polar Bear's delayed appearance
With her time in Central Ohio coming to an end, fans of Nora the polar bear cub, born Nov. 6, 2015, are flocking to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Zoo officials are doing everything they can to accommodate these folks, but some things are outside their control. Like the heat.
That's what Nora's groupies discovered Sunday morning. When the zoo opened, they headed straight to the polar bear exhibit, where they hoped to catch a glimpse of Nora during her usual 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. viewing period. Instead, folks got to see the adult polar bears cooling off in the exhibit's pool, enjoying some relief from the morning's searing heat. So welcoming was the pool, in fact, that the adult bears refused to come inside, despite coaxing from the keepers. Nora's appearance was thus delayed (zoo officials keep the adults separate from Nora for her own safety). As the delay stretched to more than an hour, many of Nora's fans gave up, deciding to check out more accessible, but far less cute animals. (Full disclosure: I was one of those quitters.)
Zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters says these kinds of delays occur on occasion. "There is nothing we can do about it," she says. "You can't force an adult bear in." Normally, keepers give up after awhile, but because so many people were there to see Nora-and her time in Columbus is limited-they kept at it this time. Between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., they finally were able to get the adults to come inside. "They had to keep calling them and calling them and hoping that, sooner or later they'll decide, 'Maybe we should go in and get something to eat,' " Peters says. Though her appearance was delayed, Nora eventually spent an hour and 45 minutes outside, rewarding more than 2,000 of her patient fans. (Sadly, I wasn't one of them.)
Since then, the adult bears have been better behaved. Nora made her Monday and Tuesday morning appearances without snags. Will the good luck continue through Labor Day, Nora's last day in Columbus before she heads to her new home at the Oregon Zoo? "You can't predict it," Peters says. "Hopefully, it will go OK now through Monday. But every once in a while, they just decide they're not going to come in."
(Photo credit: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium)