Meeting Juno

Happy International Polar Bear Day!

I really only have about 15 minutes to write before I have to get ready to go out for the night, but since I was, of course, at the zoo today, I’ll write a bit about that – while munching on some Ketchup Doritos.

So, I got there late, but all was wel, in the end.  I headed over to the Tundra Trek with the hope of catching a glimpse of young Miss Juno, our new baby polar bear cub.  She was born on Remembrance Day 2015, and what initially started as the keepers’ nickname for her eventually stuck.  She is named for Juno Beach, in honour of the Canadian Forces landing point on D-Day in WWII.  She’s also been adopted by the Candian Armed Forces now, and given the rank of Private!

Since it’s Polar Bear Day, and her first day for the public to see her, AND the weather was nice, I knew I wouldn’t get much of a chance to see her, but I wanted to at least get in there and maybe make some eye contact.  Tell her she may as well get used to me. That sort of thing.

The line was huge, but moving, and I stood in it for a couple of minutes, but then decided to go get a good spot for the Keeper Talk with the adults instead, then see Juno after.

Good call!

As expected, sisters Aurora and Nikita were up front, napping in the sun together, while Inukshuk paced in the background, knowing lunch was near.  At one point, the Keeper came out a few minutes early, so it was on!  The girls were up, Inukshuk was alert – Nikita even stood on her hind legs to a frighteningly impressive height to get a better look!  Aurora decided to get in the pool to eat her lunch, while Nikita stayed semi-dry up on the rocks.  They all have such personalities – I just love those bears.  Aurora does this thing where she runs one paw down the side of her face and neck – almost as if she has long hair that she’s brushing back with her fingers.  I melt every time.

Aw hell – it’s already time for me to get ready!  I’ll make this fast!

I got back in a much shorter line to see Juno, and while I glimpsed her sticking her head outside (took some blurry pics – damn fence!), she seemed mostly content to stay in her indoor nursery area, so I waited in line a little longer and we got inside.

I’d spotted my friend Steve who was working as a volunteer, letting visitors know all about Juno as they arrived.  I mostly let him do his thing, because I knew we’d catch up once I’d gone through the line.  By the time I got up to the indoor window, though, baby girl was fast asleep.  She was, however, right up against the window, so I hoped that I’d snap a couple of quick good shots of her sweet sleepy self before she rolled over or moved.

I got to the front, took some pics on my camera, then knelt down in front of her to snap a couple on my phone, because she is too adorable not to Instagram!

I took one, then as I too kind a second, her eyes started to open.  By the time I took he third, she’d looked right at me!

What?!

I missed the shot by a beat because I think I’d stopped breathing for a second, but we had a quick little moment there, and that was all I’d really needed.

Hudson (her big brother) used to do that, too.  I was convinced that he could somehow sense when I was there, and wouldappear over the hill, or wake up and come over.  He always seemed to know.  Even the last time I saw him, he was asleep, and I stood across the pool and just looked at him, taking a few final photos as well.  Within moments, he went from passed out cold, to opening his eyes long enough to look at me and blink, then closed them again and went back to sleep.

It was the perfect goodbye, and I look forward to having many more such moments with his beautiful little baby sister for however long I get to go visit her!

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