Get ready for Hellabrunn Zoo’s polar bear twins

Ready for adventure: 14-week-old polar bear twins take their first steps outside of the birthing den and experience a new world, under the watchful eye of mama Giovanna.

Everything is new and so exciting! After spending the first 14 weeks of their lives with mama Giovanna inside the birthing den, Hellabrunn Zoo's polar bear siblings finally emerge and embark on a discovery tour of the outdoor enclosure. On Wednesday, 19 March, the press were invited for the first official photo opportunity; visitors were then able to see the two snow-white charmers out in the open in the afternoon.


Here all the senses come alive: the cubs squint in the bright light, place their clumsy paws on the grainy soil and fresh grass, inhale the good Munich air, and have their first encounter with its refreshing water. Like good little cubs, the brother and sister duo follow their mama's every step into the unknown world of Hellabrunn's polar bear landscape. Only when Giovanna ventures into shallow water to play with one of her favourite toys, a large plastic ball, do the little ones come to a sudden halt and remain looking on for a few anxious moments. Then the brash polar bear girl, now weighing seven kilos - an entire kilo heavier than her brother - becomes curious about the water and what it feels like. She wades in and finds herself immediately in her element, paddling around in the shallow water. But it does not take long for her to start trying to climb back out and onto safe ground. Quite exhausting on those little legs!


Zoo director Dr Andreas Knieriem is thrilled: "I could spend hours watching our two cubs as they explore their new world. Every stone, every blade of grass and every ray of sunshine is a new discovery. And thanks to the loving care and unadulterated playfulness of their mama Giovanna, the little ones have a wonderful big playmate. It's a real pleasure watching the three of them."


Christine Strobl, mayor and chairman of the zoo: "I am delighted that the little cubs have developed so well in recent months and are finally ready to step out into the spacious outdoor enclosure. They will certainly learn and discover a lot in the near future." Giovanna used up all her fat reservoir in the months spent in the birthing den, losing about 60 kilos. A few days ago, she started to be fed beef again, initially a kilo per day, so that her stomach slowly becomes accustomed to solid food. Her daily ration will then be increased to four kilograms by the weekend. That is half her normal daily amount.


The twins are still taking full advantage of mama's milk bar, but have also begun pinching food from mama and are particularly fond of the taste of watermelons.


The twins' father, 14-year-old Yoghi, is currently living at Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart (probably until autumn 2014), where he keeps female polar bear Corinna company. A father bear presents a threat to his cubs, as he may see his own offspring as potential prey and could even eat them.