POWELL, Ohio – A familiar face returned to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Thursday.

Lee, a 23-year-old polar bear, was flown to Columbus from the Louisville Zoo on Thursday afternoon. Two members of the animal care team, a veterinarian and two facility staff accompanied Lee on the trip to make sure he arrived safely.

Lee returned after first arriving at the Columbus Zoo from the Denver Zoo in November 2018. While living in Columbus, zoo officials say Lee fathered his first cub, Kula, born in November 2019, with Aurora. Aurora’s twin sister also lived at the Columbus Zoo at the time, Ananawho passed away last year.

To make sure Aurora and her cub, as well as Anna, would have enough room for their cubs, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan recommended Lee move to the Louisville Zoo. He moved there in August 2020.

To help protect species at risk, the organization recommended that Lee return to Columbus and mate him with Aurora in hopes of producing cubs in the future. Lee’s reacquaintance with Aurora will take place after the end of the off-screen quarantine period.

The Columbus Zoo has seen success in its polar bear breeding program, with five cubs born since the zoo’s Polar Frontier opened in 2010.


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