Photo: Paul Zinkin / Dr.
Animal friends in Berlin are shocked after it turns out that the parents of the lovable polar bear Hertha are brother and sister.
Young Herta was born in the Zoo in East Berlin in December 2018 and named after the local football team. Andreas Knirim, director of the Berlin Zoo, said on Tuesday that her mother, Tonya, was born in Moscow in 2009 but received the wrong documents. Herta’s father, Volodya, was sent to the Netherlands in 2019. According to the zoo announcement, he has the same parents as Tonya.
A biologist made this discovery when he found conflicting information in ancient documents about Tonya’s date of birth. Apparently, another female polar bear was born in Moscow at the same time. DNA analysis confirmed suspicions of an error.
“This gross mistake is a pitiful setback for the delicate work done by the European Education Program,” said Knirim. He added that this was human error and that the blame was not placed on the Moscow Zoo. He said the staff were completely transparent.
Reports were rejected
Animal experts noted that there were already suspicions of a kinship between Volodya and Tonya when the male arrived in Berlin in 2013. James Bruckner of the German Association for Animal Welfare said the zoo rejected the reports. This discovery means that Tonya is no longer allowed to have children.
Knirim said Hertha and Tonya would be in Berlin for the time being. Experts also stated that Herta’s incestuous ancestors did not affect the health of the little polar bear.
Polar bears are considered an endangered species. There are only twenty to twenty-five thousand animals left in the wild.