250-pound, 1-year-old bear comes to the Baltimore Zoo

A SPLASHY DEBUT A

November 22, 1990|By Michael Ollove

With a small crowd gathered to ogle her every move, she negotiated her Baltimore coming out with a self-assurance rare in one so young.

Wrapped in an off-white fur, she strode confidently before the cameras, nuzzled her new boyfriend's nose, and finally, after emitting a snort or two, launched herself into the pool to play with the large rubber ball floating there.

After spending more than a month in Baltimore out of view, Anana, the Baltimore Zoo's new, 1-year-old, 250-pound polar bear, finally got a chance to meet her public yesterday.

She arrived here as a permanent loan from Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo and a mail-order bride for Magnet, a 22-month-old, 425-pound polar bear who came from the Toledo Zoo in June.

If Anana doesn't fall in love with Magnet, Baltimore Zoo officials at least hope she will bear him a cub. If all goes well, she could give birth within six years.

Mark Rosenthal, curator of mammals at Lincoln Park Zoo, said the Baltimore Zoo was one of several zoos to express interest in Anana. Baltimore was selected, he said, because of its good reputation and the fact that it already had a young male polar bear.

Brian A. Rutledge, the Baltimore Zoo's director, said he was thrilled to get Anana (rhymes with "banana" and means "beautiful" in Inuit) because she was the only female cub available in the United States this year. He said he hopes the presence of Anana and Magnet in Baltimore will increase public interest in protecting the habitats of Arctic animals.

Together, Anana and Magnet are filling the vacuum created by the deaths of a trio of popular polar bears who lived at the Baltimore Zoo for more than 30 years. The last of them, Millie, died last year at the age of 36.

In their later years, none of those bears displayed much dazzle, content to spend most of their time sleeping under the sun. Yesterday's performance by Anana and Magnet demonstrated that Polar Bear Square is likely to become a lively place once again.

The two bears frolicked in the water, playfully swatting each other and wrestling. Their nuzzling drew "oohs" and "ahs" from the crowd.

Mr. Rutledge said Anana, who is likely to grow to three times her present size, was kept in quarantine for a month to make certain she was healthy and adapting well to her new home. On Saturday, he said, she was introduced to Magnet, her significant other.

"They've been getting along famously," said Mr. Rutledge, the proud matchmaker. "They just went right to playing sort of like puppies. He's let her get away with murder."

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