News Release 

Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351,
April 6, 2021
NOTE: Photos of Hudson and Hope are at the end of the press release.

Hudson and Hope—Brookfield Zoo’s Polar Bears Introduced for First Time

 Brookfield, Ill.— The wait is over. Hope, a 5-year-old female polar bear who arrived at Brookfield Zoo this past January, and Hudson, the zoo’s 14-year-old male polar bear, recently were introduced to one another.

When Hope first arrived from Utah’s Hogle Zoo, she was able to explore and get acclimated to her new home at the zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness. Over the past several weeks, animal care staff began allowing the two polar bears to see and smell each other through mesh barriers behind the scenes before giving them access together in one of the outdoor habitats.

“We are happy to see that the introduction between Hudson and Hope is going well,” said Amy Roberts, senior curator of mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo. “While the two bears are getting to know each other, guests may see them engaged in a variety of normal behaviors, including open-mouth displays, roaring, chuffing (a rapid jaw movement), and one bear following the other.” It’s also a positive sign that we have seen them eating together and sleeping close within sight of one other.” To allow them more space, for the immediate future, the bears also will have access to an indoor area.

Hope’s transfer to Brookfield Zoo was based on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

In the wild, polar bears are solitary except during the breeding season, which takes place from late March to early June, and when females are raising their cubs. In early fall, Hope will be given access to a den behind the scenes in the chance that she may be pregnant. The maternity den area at Great Bear Wilderness was specifically designed in the shape and dimensions of actual dens in the wild. If she does give birth, the area is equipped with cameras outside to allow animal care staff to observe the mom and cub(s) without disturbing them.

Polar bears are currently listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main threat of the species’ decline is due to reduced access to their main source of food—seal—due to climate change melting the sea ice and other environmental factors. According to researchers, there are approximately 23,000-26,000 polar bears living worldwide today, including in and around Canada, Russian, and east Greenland.

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 Photo Captions (credit Jim Schulz/CZS-Brookfield Zoo)
0426, 0574, 0747, 0842, 1386, and 1400: Hope and Hudson, Brookfield Zoo’s polar bears, were recently introduced to one another. Guests can see them in one of the outdoor habitats at the zoo’s Great Bear Wilderness. Hope, arrived at Brookfield Zoo this past January from Utah’s Hogle Zoo.

About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. The zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit


Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071


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