Yekaterinburg Zoo to use brown bears to foster polar bear cubs

Brown bear

Brown bear

The Yekaterinburg Zoo recently launched a program–the first of its kind in Russian zoos–to use brown bears as surrogate mothers for polar bear cubs.

The zoo is currently creating a polar bear sperm and egg bank and expects its first surrogate-born polar bear cubs by 2018, according to zoo spokesperson Igor Permyakov, RIA Novosti reports.

Permyakov also denied recent media reports that a brown bear could become a mother sooner.

“She’s 30 years old, and she’s had 20 cubs already,” Permyakov said, according to RIA Novosti. She’s not going to become a mum again.

There are an estimated 25,000 polar bears in the world. The animals are under threat from climate change, which is shrinking their habitat. Polar bears rarely reproduce in captivity.

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