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. robin johnson

    It is a wonderful distraction from the usual death, war, and dismemberment of children....keep 'em coming!!!!!!!!!!

    December 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mimi

    Sorry to all of the "intelligent" people out there. There is such a term "Scandinavian languages" – Read Wikipedia...The Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish languages form a dialect continuum and are known as the Scandinavian languages—all of which are considered mutually intelligible with each other. Faroese and Icelandic, sometimes referred to as insular Scandinavian languages, are only intelligible with continental Scandinavian languages to a very limited extent. Finnish and Sami languages are entirely unrelated to Scandinavian.

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

      Are you seriously using "Wikipedia" as a source?

      December 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Finn-Saami

      In this environment, the use of Wikipedia is not a problem if the information is correct. This is not a peer-reviewed research project, it's an open forum. Hyvää päivää.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wa2go

    How IRONIC that CocaCola is trying to raise awareness about GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE. What do you think is the CARBON FOOTPRINT of all of the TRUCKS in the world delivering CocaCola products? And what is the carbon footprint of their ALUMINUM CAN production? I have no doubt they are a MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR to the problem!

    December 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Upton

      Do you drink coca cola? you are part of the problem too.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ar377

      Um, maybe you should look up the many other things that Coca Cola strives for in regards to sustainability and corporate responsibility. A simple google search could give you that information.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • AW

      You make a swell point, unless they deliver their goods in hemp bags by donkey cart they aren't allowed to do anything environmentally friendly.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • wa2go

      Actually, Upton, I drank my last CocaCola product in 1984, at which point I became enlightened to how unhealthy soft drinks are. Now, I only drink my own well water, or juices and smoothies that I make myself at home. When traveling, I drink filtered water that I filter myself with a portable GAC filter. I do not purchase any liquids in throw-away containers, regardless of whether they are metal or plastic. So I am doing my part in this area. Hopefully you are too.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bzarr

    Did I miss something? What war in Iran?

    December 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • fatjoe

      The norwegian fish sausage eaters we will raise a polar bear army that will be impervious to the dry iraqian heat and dessert climate and the polar bear army will clear the way for us to plant a mac donalds on every city block in baghdad!!

      December 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Too cute

    That is just the sweetest thing I have seen all day 🙂 I want to hold it lol

    December 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Paul

    yeah let's keep watching the cute polar bear while we forget that we are screwing our own planet ... we sure the stupidest form of intelligent life ever existed on this planet

    December 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Catch22ofNJ

      Lighten up Paul. It's supposed to be a feel good story. Have a cup of decaf and smile at the picture. Geez.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheDoctor

      No Paul you are the only stupid one here , learn how to make complete sentences, use spell checker its free

      December 29, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
    • collin

      really, glass half empty much

      December 29, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. fernace

    I'm smiling right along w/you Smile-Future, there is no such language as "Scandinavian"! The Scandinav Nations of Sweden/Norway on the Scandinavian Peninsula & Denmark, the isles right below, have 3 languages, Swedish, Norwegian & Danish & in none of these languages does Siku translate to Sea Ice! In Swedish/ Norwegian it's "Sjo Is" & I believe Danish, too! Perhaps it's a Finnish word! The Fins have a very different language from the Scandinavian nations, more Estonian/Latvian & perhaps a little slavic! Icelandic is like old Norse! I'm a 0 generation Scandinav from Swedish/Norwegian parents & feel it's my duty to correct the misstatements & misconceptions of my birthplace, which I still treasure! I'm proud to know all of Scandinavia back the plight of the Polar Bear! We, as the supposed keepers of the planet, should be very concerned when creatures are threatned w/ extinction because of Global Warming! Think about it! We are not exempt!!

    December 28, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jean-Luc

    I hope this one doesn't die of encephalitis in 4 years.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bill

    This polar bear sure is cuter and more desirable to look at than any Kardashian I've ever seen!

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

      Setting the bar low, Bill.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • 4smajeure

      Kardashian's butt is still bigger.

      December 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Zee

    Cute now, man eater later. Polar bears, along with tigers, are among the very few animals for whom humans are their natural prey. I have mixed feelings looking at this little guy....

    December 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      Humans are a natural prey?? Eek!! I didn't know that! He is a cute cub, but I wouldn't want to meet his mother!!

      December 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alain Ciphat

      Aren't you the pot calling the kettle black? Man is the predator (often for purely entertainment reasons as opposed to survival) of most species on this planet. On that note, I'm sure they have mixed feelings looking at you.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      The natural prey of polar bears is walrus, seals and whales. Humans moved later into their environment (10,000 years ago) and they hunt us opportunistically.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dr Perry Fisher

    Shameful, that poor lil bear should be in the wilds of the Artic along with it s mother.That bear isn t happ ,.release him and film him/her in the wild, the bear is in a prison

    December 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Terri

      He would die if they did that. His mom can't feed him. He has to be bottle fed.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Your comment belies your handle and makes us doubt you.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tim

    Too cute! Look at the claws on that baby though.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Catch22ofNJ

    If he grows up liking both male and female bears, does that make him... bipolar?

    December 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • PudninTane

      That was pretty bad, but I admit, it did get a chuckle.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. adrifter

    Cute? Sweet? All I can see is an animal that will grow up be one of nature's most efficient killers, whether in a zoo or in the wild. You people are crazy to fawn over such an animal. A polar bear is just a shark with four legs. I've never heard anyone say a baby shark is cute.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      People fawn over babies too, and they grow up into adults that kill people, so what's your point?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Shark pups are cute.

      There you go! As an individual who has studied Marine Biology for years, I am sincere.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. PudninTane

    I know this is just a fluff, distraction piece, but that bear so freakin' cute I almost pooped myself.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
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