Nora, Oregon Zoo's beloved polar bear, arrives at new home in Utah

Eleven month-old polar bear Nora in the winter habitat at the Oregon Zoo. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) – For the last year, visitors to the Oregon Zoo have fallen in love with Nora – the zoo’s rambunctious two-year-old Polar Bear.

The beloved bear arrived Tuesday at her new home at the Hogle Zoo in Utah.

Nora came to Oregon in September 2016 as a pint-sized cub, just under one year old.

She was meant be a companion for the Oregon Zoo’s other polar bear, Tasul, who had just lost her longtime habitat mate Conrad. Nearly a month after Nora’s move, however, Tasul passed away.

Nora will be moving into the Utah zoo to live with another polar bear named Hope.

“From the time she was a week old, Nora has interacted almost exclusively with people,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the Oregon Zoo’s marine life area. “As hard as it is for us to say goodbye, this is a great move for Nora and we are really excited for her.”

Nora was born at the Columbus Zoo on Nov. 6, 2015. Her mother started leaving her alone in the den, so zoo staff said they made the difficult decision to step in and rear the cub.

“For a young bear that was hand-raised, the companionship of another bear will be so important for developing social skills,” said Cutting. “Hope should be a great companion for her. The two bears were born less than a month apart, and they have a similar youthful energy.”

Cutting said that the Oregon Zoo would have enjoyed having Hope move to Portland, but they are still working to build a new Polar Passage habitat. The project is expected to wrap up in 2020.

Zoo officials said it is too soon to tell if Nora will move back to Oregon once the Polar Passage habitat is finished.

“Hogle Zoo has a terrific modern polar bear habitat and an expert animal-care team. It will be a great place for these two young bears to get acquainted,” said Cutting.

She said that staff from the Utah zoo spent time with Nora before the move, getting acquainted with her routines and personalities. Her Oregon Zoo handlers traveled with her to make the transition as seamless as possible.

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