December 28th, 2011
12:23 PM ET

Meet Siku: Polar bear cub, heart- and ice-melter

What’s white and black and has people fawning all over? Meet Siku, a polar bear cub born in captivity in Denmark.

The cute cub is being reared by handlers at the  Scandinavian Wildlife Park because its mother isn’t producing the milk to feed him. Since his birth last month, Siku has become a Web star. He has his own page on the Scandinavian Wildlife Park website and he’s even on Facebook.

Park director Frank Vigh-Larsen says he's stunned by the cub's rapid transformation into an Internet sensation.

Video footage posted on YouTube of Siku bottle-feeding, rolling around and snoozing has been viewed more than 2 million times in six days, he told CNN, and the cub gained thousands of friends on Facebook within the space of a few hours.

As of Wednesday, at 36 days old, Siku has just opened his eyes and weighs in at 4.2 kilograms (9.2 pounds), more than five times his initial weight, his handler said.

"He's just a little solid cannonball," Vigh-Larsen said. "He's doing well."

Such growth is a testament to the dedicated care Siku is receiving. For the first three weeks, Vigh-Larsen fed the cub every two hours - and still feeds him every three hours, meaning the keeper gets little sleep.

In the new year, two other wildlife keepers will start to care for him, too, in shifts, making sure the cub is never alone during the first 12 months of his life.

Siku's popularity comes at a time when the plight of polar bears is at its peak. Corporate giant Coca-Cola recently launched a campaign in conjunction with the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about arctic conditions that threaten polar bears.

Siku, which means “sea ice” in Greenlandic, an Eskimo language spoken in Greenland, is thriving under a bottle-feeding program instituted by the park’s keepers.

"Siku is going to be an ambassador for polar bears, for global warming," Vigh-Larsen said.

Vigh-Larsen draws a contrast with the last polar bear cub to become an Internet star, Germany's Knut. That bear died suddenly at age 4 last March at Zoo Berlin, to the sorrow of many worldwide who had followed the cub's progress after he was abandoned by his mother and hand-raised by a zookeeper.

The case of Knut was a disaster, Vigh-Larsen said, "because he was only ever used for selling tickets and teddy bears."

Siku will have a different mission, he says: using his cuteness to persuade people to listen to warnings about climate change and take steps to protect their planet.

It could prove a powerful weapon. The cub has already appeared on front pages of newspapers around the world and graced international TV news bulletins.

New pictures will be posted on the Wildlife Park's website Thursday, Vigh-Larsen said, with the pictures likely to win him even more fans.

Scientists believe there could be as few as 25,000 polar bears left in the world, according to Polar Bears International, a conservation group. The animals are only found in five nations, the United States (Alaska), Russia, Norway, Canada and Greenland, the group said.

In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

CNN's Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Animals • Bears • World
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. browny

    We should not be focusing on cute animals and should be focusing on the War in Iran. This is just a distraction. We dont need weak people wasting time looking at this.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • sas

      Uh, we ARE focused on the war in IRAN. It's the headline story.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • wr

      Somebody want to tell him?

      December 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • garc

      Yes, that's right...Let's focus exclusively on the negative, because it helps...what? What exactly would you define as the "War in Iran," anyway? Has someone declared war on Iran?

      Perhaps a "strong" person like you could come up with a way to help the people in Iran who don't actually want their current government but are killed whenever they try to change it?

      December 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      You must have been the life of the party this holiday season, browny. What a charmer...

      December 28, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meg

      There is no war in Iran... And your comment "we don't need weak people wasting time looking at this" then why did you click on this story? You must be part of the "weak people" you are talking about.
      These positive stories help to bring some happiness into the world and we really should be focused on the Polar Bear as they might not be around in the next 40 years.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Comments like this always make me laugh. There are 24 hours in a day. It took me about 1 minute to read this article. Pretty sure there's enough time left in the day to read any news there is about Iran.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karloff

      What a joy it must be to know you. Lighten up.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Camile

      Waste time looking at it like you did?

      December 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary-Anne

      Seriously? Get a grip.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Thanks for warning everyone of the dangers associated with enjoying cute animal pictures. Those darn cuties will certainly be the doom of mankind.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrisiebur

      WAR WHERE? Since when are we at war w/IRAN? Come on let's not get all hipped up here-this polar bear is very cute-enjoy him while you can and STOP BEING NEGATIVE-When the polar bear is all grown up let Jerry shower with him!

      December 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      idiot – there is no war in IRAN.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christof

      You obviously took the time to click on the link...

      December 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keith

      I'll tell you what. You focus on whatever war, tragedy, despair and misery your victim's heart desires and the rest of us will focus on what we like. How's that?

      December 28, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. maddawg

    um.....hey brainiac....

    there is no war in iran that we are involved in......

    and yes, we should focus on cute animals as they are at least the inocent in this world.....unlike the human wasteoids.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mr Shropsharp

    I don't know much, but I do know one thing – polar bears are some pretty useless animals.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • sandyf

      Well, you're right about one thing. You obviously don't know much.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO

      Relax, it's from a Diary of a Wimpy Kid story, Wise Up Mr Shropsharp.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip


    December 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dan

    @browny, I suppose you also think we should be looking away from the Penn State scandle and the presidential race. First of all, there is no war in Iran right now. Iran is talking its usual smack to the U.S with no intention of backing it up. The Iranian government's own people want to overthrow it, so going to war with anyone is not an option for them. So calm down and enjoy the baby polar bear you ass.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rob F

    This is the Knut story all over again.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. test1

    Din't realize we were at war with Iran? Can't there be some good things in the news once in awhile. Does everything have to be about doom and gloom all the time. Personally I'd rather look at the cute polar bear cub than the leader of Iran

    December 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SmileFuture

    "Siku, which means “sea ice” in Scandinavian..."

    Hahaha the Scnadinavian language?! Reminds me when someone asked me if I spoke "Europease" in Middle School. Silly CNN...

    December 28, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • RH

      Glad to see someone else caught that too...good lord. It's called Danish!

      December 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Johnny Five

    Coca Cola is delicious

    December 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Allen

    In about 5 years this thing will love nothing more than to eat a person alive tearing huge chunks of flesh out of him as he screams in terror.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob F


      December 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bzarr

      And he will be screaming about this war that doesn't exist.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Yes, in the sanctuary where Siku lives patrons and visitors will be thrown daily into his enclosure for his entertainment. This will be broadcast live on Fox and you can see it for a small fee of only $99.00/week! Sign up now for a discount!

      December 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DH

    Hey CNN, there is no such thing as "Scandinavian" There are 3 major Scandinavian languages, Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian. But nobody speaks "Scandinavian" They speak Danish, Swedish, or Norwegian. Does anybody every proof read this stuff?

    December 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen

      I speak South American.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gov Perry

      I speak retardanese.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gary Carter

    I personally adore polar bears am doing all I can being a voice for them.Thanks for the article and photo.

    December 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gary I

    The caption for this picture should be, "there has to be a Starbucks around here somewhere." Cute animals rock!

    December 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gloria

    I, for one, enjoyed the story about Siku; he is darling and we all need to be aware of the endangered in our world.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Idiot

    There is no war in Iraq. It's been an occupation since Saddam's regime was toppled nearly 10 years ago. And there is no war on Iran, yet.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
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