Farewell Nela, goodbye Nobby – soon to be relocated

As announced in December 2015, Hellabrunn's polar bear twins Nela and Nobby will soon be relocated to other European zoos. But there is still time to visit the two heartthrobs in Hellabrunn Zoo.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Sebastian Widmann

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Sebastian Widmann

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Sebastian Widmann

Nela and Nobby will leave their native city of Munich this February. Nobby will join an all-male group in Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster in England and Nela will live in a female group in the newly opened Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands.


"We have not announced the exact date of their departure in order to ensure the two polar bears have a smooth, hassle-free relocation," says zoo director Rasem Baban. "Hellabrunn Zoo will announce this once Nela and Nobby have arrived safely in their new home. However there is still time to visit the twins in Hellabrunn and watch them play. Especially during the carnival holidays."


The zoos selected for the relocation of Nela and Nobby were chosen in coordination with the European Endangered Species Programme for polar bears. Nela will move into a completely newly built polar bear enclosure with 4,700 m2 of space, where she will be joined by two young playmates of her age. At Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Nobby will join one other male polar bear juvenile to form a bachelor group and will live in a new enclosure measuring approximately 10,000 m2.


This coming of age process whereby polar bears leave their mother at the age of about two years to set up their own home range also takes place in the wild. The twins, who turned two years old on 9 December, have been prepared for their journey by means of special crate training with their keepers. The crate training conducted over a period of time is designed to help Nela and Nobby gradually become accustomed to their shipping crate. In this way the bears will learn that the crate presents no risk to them, and will enter the crate for their transfer voluntarily. This means that the use of an anaesthetic, which has inherent risks, can be avoided. 


About Hellabrunn Zoo’s polar bears:

The polar bear twins Nela and Nobby were born on 9 December 2013. Hellabrunn Zoo achieved a worldwide first by recording the first colour video footage of the early development of polar bear cubs in the first few months with the mother in a birthing den - in a zoo or on the ice. This achievement is of great scientific importance.


Mama bear Giovanna was born on 28 November 2006 in Fasano, Italy. She came to Hellabrunn in January 2008. During renovation work on the Polar World, Giovanna and Yoghi (born on 29.11.1999 in Pistoia, Italy) spent 2009 and 2010 in Berlin. There, Giovanna became Knut's first playmate. Since 2010, Yoghi and Giovanna have been living together as a harmonious couple at Hellabrunn. Yoghi mated with Giovanna in Easter 2013. By the end of the summer, after a period of dormancy of the fertilised egg, the embryo began to grow. After this, the gestation period only lasted another eight weeks.


The father of the polar bear twins, 16-year-old Yoghi, presents a threat to his cubs as he may see his own offspring as potential prey. Nela and Nobby have therefore always lived separately from their father.