Getting to Know Each Other: Oja and Worf
Oja and Worf, the Zoo’s two Andean bears are now visible in habitat together. However, in terms of getting to know each other, the bears have been taking it slow.
Oja came from Zurich Zoo in Switzerland this last January. Like all animals new to the Zoo, Oja had to complete a health screening at the Animal Health Center. While she was there, animal care staff provided Oja lots of object enrichment (items like branches, browse, hay bedding) from the habitats of other animals at the Zoo. Oja is a very curious bear: She was interested in exploring and smelling everything, but she was most interested in items that came from Worf.
Meanwhile, in the Andean bear habitat down in the Zoo’s South America loop, Worf spent a lot of time investigating items that came from and smelled like Oja. Once Oja’s health screening was complete, she moved into the Andean bear habitat in the Zoo’s South America loop and was given access to the habitat without Worf.
“When Oja was first introduced to the habitat, we gave her time to get really comfortable with everything, like climbing up and down the trees,” Animal Care Supervisor Rebecca Edwards noted. “That way, when we added something that could potentially be a little stressful (like meeting a new bear!) she knew how to safely move around the habitat.”
When introductions first started, Oja wanted to take things slow.
“When Oja was comfortably moving around the habitat, we opened the door and let Worf out to meet her,” Edwards said. “As soon as she saw him she scurried up to the high point of the artificial tree and watched him.”
Worf has been showing a lot of interest in Oja, vocalizing at her and watching her from his favorite spot in the pool. Now, after several weeks of introductions, Oja is staying pretty close to Worf. Even when they’re both on the ground, she is staying within six feet of him and watching him.
All of that excitement during the day has Worf, the older of the two, sleeping later in the morning. “We’ve been giving her access to the habitat first thing in the morning when Worf is sleeping in. He sleeps through most of those sessions, but Oja will walk over and see that he is sleeping. She gets closer and peeks at him while he is resting.”
While Oja and Worf are still getting to know each other, you may only see one of them in their habitat at a time. However, they are spending more and more time together so you might get lucky!