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. Pandora247

    Baby sharks are cute

    December 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      Man or beast, all babies are cute. Albeit some have the face only a mother could love.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      I think so, but I have a degree in Marine Biology. Tastes differ.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MichaelChatt

      So using a cute little baby bear as a Propoganda Tool is better than using it to sell tickets?

      As for it hurting someone, Humans have befriended Bears many times without being harmed. The problem is the damage they can do casually and without intent as adults is extreme.

      I really wish the Global Warming zealots would stop trying to spread the Religion of Global Warming and instead try to spread the reality that our planet is not a trash can. To many people are perfectly well aware that the Climate of the planet Earth is constantly changing. We all know that it is probably a Bad idea for us to try to change the regular shifts our planet goes through. It's very hard to give credibility to a guy who lands in Alaska for the first time and says "I knew something was wrong. The Ice caps have never erroded so quickly before." Exajurate much? New York used to be under Ice. Now it isn't. It was in the time frame of human existance. The Great lakes were under ice and now they are not. We have so much to learn about our planet that extreme claims do not help us. Arguments of Zealots and extremist do not advance a common cause. Why not point out that Tigers are disappearing in some parts of the world. Some areas of the Ocean have few to any fish in them. Some of the Rivers in South East Asia are void of fish or nearly so. Rivers in Russia are toxic. American companies dump crap and posion people illegally. Sharks are being killed by the millions. Dolphines and Whales are being Barbaricly slaughtered by some of the worlds most advanced and other wise mature nations. We have people dieing and full on crimes against Nature happening all around the world. It's time to talk about real issues. Let Global Warming, Big Foot and Atlantis wait until there is enough honest to got science to back it up. Eggs are bad, Eggs are good. The planet is getting to hot, the planet is getting to cold. It's man's fault, why? Because I've never seen anything like this in the last 21 years since I was born.

      Why not be brave and stop picking unprovable emotional problems whether fronted by cute bear faces or not. Our planet is not a Garbage can. Have some stones and point fingers instead of wagging them at Phantoms.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • JohnW

      Yeah, global warming zealots. You know, like 90+% of the world's scientists that say global warming (actually it's called climate change but I hate to confuse you with more facts) is happening and that man is not the cause but definitely adding to it. Those zealots. You're on the internet. Try using it for actual research some time.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pimpson

    That thing is going to grow in size and start mauling those people.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ack

      Please – we're trying to have a civilization here.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      Well, it's certainly going to get bigger but I'm not sure about the mauling part. They will have to be very careful. Remember even if though it's in captivity, it's still a wild animal with wild instincts. Granted right now, probably safer than in the wild.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Because I'm sure they never thought of that! They just let anybody be a Zoologist these days sheesh.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • garc

      Yes, I'm sure the people at the WILDLIFE PARK have never been educated in the habits of bears and have no means of protection.

      This sort of thing is one of the reasons why species such as this are going extinct. Humans tend to think entirely about what each animal can "do for us"/to us. It can't just be about the species surviving because it has a right to, right...? It's one thing for nature to wipe out a type of animal (dinosaurs), and quite another for humans to wipe it out because we blame the animal when in fact we've encroached on or destroyed its territory, or depleted its food source, or refuse to take the most basic precautions when we are in ITS habitat. Then there's the fact that accidents happen occasionally with even domesticated animals, but we love them, and rightly so. Here's a revolutionary thought–valuing life on this earth even when it doesn't "do anything for us."

      December 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • john-177

      People, it doesn't matter how knowledgeable you are, professional zoologist or not, a wild animal is a wild animal and can have unpredictable behavior. So this cub mauling someone one day isn't a far-fetched possibility.

      December 28, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    I see "Greenlandic" language.
    That's what I just read.
    These comments are hilarious.
    The bear is cute.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Kuli

    WOW crazy cute

    December 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Branflake

    Anyone remember Knut? the little polar bear in Germany, who just died at the age of 4, and they blame all the attention he got from the media, and all the craziness surrounding him. Let's hope this little guy's life turns out much better.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Even fewer cubs survive to adulthood in the wild.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Professor Trollworth

      Yes. The best way to help this bear is to ignore it as fiercely as possible. Let's all go read different articles and forget about this one. How about that article about Cheetah the chimp dying... or Kim Jong Il. Go read those... NOW!

      December 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rose

    The article states the bear is white and black.. Where is the black, looks all white to me.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      Maybe they thought it was a panda bear?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZnHcats

      The nose is black.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Polar bears have black skin.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      paws/nose/eyes/claws

      December 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • BG

      Agreed – not a spec of black on the bear.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boomer in Mo

      Rose, look at the boy's nose. Looks black to me.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Watcher

      Polar Bears have black skin

      December 28, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bozobub

    The cute! IT BURNS!

    December 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jean-Luc

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

    December 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Professor Trollworth

    I wonder if this bear drinks coca-cola. If it does not, I am not interested.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Johnny

    These taste like chicken.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ROCKWOOD

    Yep, very cute now....pretty soon he'll be able to eat someone..... None-the-less, a species that needs saving.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ROCKWOOD

      ...errr,. another species that needs saving....they all need to be saved. Oh never mind, you know what I mean.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. r.ortiz

    beautifyl animal, but watch out when he grows up he will be real big and dangerous.

    December 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bates

    Can't wait until it grows up and starts mauling people!

    December 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Argle Bargle

    A long and happy life to you, Siku!

    May your caretakers see that your every want and need is fulfilled and that you enjoy a cold, clear and wonderfully sunny existence!

    December 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. William

    Other than Knut, Siku is the most adorable polar bear ever bred in captivity.

    December 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
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