Polar bear cub Siku
Siku was born on November 22nd, 2011.
Siku’s mother is Ilka and Siku’s father is Nanok. Ilka has earlier had trouble producing milk for her cubs, so we kept an eye out for that happening again with Siku. Unfortunately it was the same story all over again, so we had the choice of either letting Siku starve to death or hand-rearing him. We chose the latter.
The name Siku
That choice came with some things we needed to consider. Firstly it was very important the Siku didn’t grow up to be a pet, but a completely normal polar bear. Secondly, he was going to be used as an ambassador for his wild counterparts, and that’s why he got the name Siku. Siku is the most common word for sea ice in all inuit languages. And last but not least, Siku was going to be completely non-profit. He was not only going to be used to sell t-shirts and teddy bears.
Contact with Siku
The first 6-7 weeks Frank Vigh-Larsen, the director of Scandinavian Wildlife Park, took care of Siku all by himself. After that Janne came to help and when Siku was 14 weeks, Marie came along as well. These are the only three people that have ever been close to Siku. It was very important to limit the access to Siku, to ensure that he did not become a pet. For that reason it was also descided that the only one to take photos of Siku was wildlife photographer Søren Koch and they only one to do video was Dorte Nüchel from TV2 Østjylland. That way we had a lot of control over what pictures and video of Siku got out, and this was two people who knew the park very well, and knew the guidelines around Siku.
To begin with, either Frank or Janne slept with Siku inside. When polar bear cubs are born, they spend their first months very close in a den with their mother. But when Siku moved outside in his enclosure, Frank, Janne and now also Marie started sleeping in a caravan just outside the enclosure instead. We slept here every night till November 1st, 2012.
Siku learns to live outside
We started out being in the enclosure with Siku, when he first moved outside. We crawled around on the ground with him, explored and met the world with him. He was very secure in his surroundings, so we stopped going in with him in start april, 2012 and he’s been alone in the enclosure ever since. The first year, someone was always with him on the other side of the fence, but now he’s used to being alone 24/7.
Siku and Smilla
Siku had since he moved outside, been able to say hello to the other adult bears through the fence and all winter 2012/2013 he had an older female named Smilla as a neighbor. In 2013 they knew each other so well that we opened up between them and they lived together for a while in Siku’s teenage room.
Siku and the twins
Siku's mother Ilka gave birth to a set of twins the year after Siku was born. This time we succeeded in stimulating Ilka's milk production, and she raised them on her own. When the twins turned 1 year old, we introduced Siku to the little family. Siku and the twins quickly (2 minutes in) became good friends, and have found great joy in playing together. This marks one of the greatest goals in Siku's life; making sure that he is able to live and interact with other polar bears.
Siku as an ambassador
We have worked very hard on making sure that Siku became an ambassador for his wild counterparts, and no media has been allowed to write about Siku, with out also talking about global warming. But Siku’s popularity quickly grew to proportions, that were very hard for us to handle. So we quickly got the help of Polar Bears International, who ‘adopted’ Siku and put us in contact with explore.org. Together with these two organizations we’ve gotten a sponsorship by the Annenberg Foundation (none of the money goes towards the park, but goes to running websites, Siku Cam and more) for a 5 year project with Siku in the middle. This means that Siku has a web cam that he’s on 2-3 hours a day. On My Planet My Part, you are able to see Siku Cam, other live cams and find ideas and inspire others on how to reduce your carbon footprint and hopefully help to save Siku’s wild counterparts.