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July 31, 2021

'We will miss our beehive bear': Popular Hogle Zoo polar bear Nora returns to previous home

SALT LAKE CITY — Nora, who became a popular resident of Utah’s Hogle Zoo for a few years, has returned safely to her previous home, zoo officials said Wednesday.

The 5-year-old polar bear was transferred from Hogle Zoo back to the Oregon Zoo, which is where she called home until 2017. The decision that she would be transferred back to Oregon was announced earlier this year.

Nora, a polar bear popular for her playful and energetic spirit, suffered a broken leg in 2019 likely caused by the animal participating in roughhousing. She underwent a delicate surgery before she returned to her exhibit later that year.

Hogle Zoo officials on Wednesday shared a video of Nora playing in the snow inside her enclosure last week with a message that she had arrived at Oregon Zoo safely.

“We loved and treasured her so much and had many diverse experiences with Nora, including the challenge to help her heal when she broke her leg!” officials wrote. “We were able to get her the proper treatment to nurse her back to full strength so she can continue being the loveable, silly polar bear she is. We will miss our beehive bear.”

Nora’s become newsworthy a few times since her birth. The first was a video of her playing in a pool of ice back in 2016 that went viral.

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Another video, posted by The Oregonian in 2017 that’s been viewed over 30 million times, shared the story of her surviving after her mother left their den and never returned. It explained how the staff at Columbus Zoo decided to raise Nora after she was abandoned.

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Nora was also diagnosed with a bone disease early on, which Hogle Zoo officials said in 2019 likely factored in her bone break.

Hogle Zoo’s other polar bear fixture for some time, Hope, was also recently transferred. The zoo announced it had transferred Hope to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago back in January.

It also welcomed in Nikita, a 15-year-old male polar bear that was previously at a zoo in North Carolina last week. The new polar bear weighs 1,200 pounds which is about the size of both Nora and Hope combined, according to zoo officials.

Nikita remains in zoo quarantine but Hogle Zoo visitors will be able to see the new polar bear in “a few weeks,” officials added.

KGW in Portland, Oregon reported that Nora can be seen at Oregon Zoo beginning in April.

“We’re so excited to welcome Nora back,” Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo marine life area for Oregon Zoo, told the news outlet Wednesday. “She’s kind of like the kid who goes off to college and comes home all grown up. We can’t wait to get reacquainted.”

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