Hogle Zoo’s polar bear ‘Nora’ recovering after breaking leg

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) -Hogle Zoo’s polar bear “Nora” is making great strides as she recovers from breaking her front leg back in February.

According to a press release issued by the Zoo, Nora broke her humerus bone (from shoulder to elbow) on her fright front leg during what keepers believe happened during one of her “signature style” of roughhouse play.

“She’s a very rambunctious bear,” said Lead Keeper Kaleigh Jablonski. “It’s not unusual to watch her head-dive into the snow without any hesitation. She just plays rough.”

Veterinarians consulted with numerous zoos, veterinary surgeons, radiologists and human orthopedic specialists across the country regarding bone breaks in young bears. A world-class surgical team was then assembled for the 8-hour procedure.

A large animal orthopedic team from Texas A&M, a human orthopedic surgeon from the University of Utah Medical Center and a veterinary anesthesiologist from North Carolina State University, along with the Hogle Zoo veterinary department, performed Nora’s surgery on Monday, February 4.

Nora now has heavy-duty orthopedic hardware such as screws and special orthopedic pin in her leg.

Nora has had access to her exhibit for an hour at a time before the zoo opens over the last couple of weeks. Keepers said this allows her to explore her modified (“baby-proofed”) exhibit at her own pace.

“She has enjoyed taking deep-diving swims and checking in on her neighbors, the seals and sea lions,” stated in the press release. “Nora has not spent any time with Hope, the zoo’s other young female polar bear, and that will likely not occur until late September. At that time, the Animal Care team will perform another round of X-rays before the two 500+ pounds bears are brought together.”

While Nora’s fans from around the world are anxious to visit the superstar polar bear, the zoo is unable to commit to or guarantee a set schedule for when she will be on exhibit.

“We are taking this at Nora’s speed and taking our cues from Nora,” said zoo spokesperson, Erica Hansen. “We’re watching for soreness, stiffness and we want to make sure she’s comfortable and not overdoing it.” At any given time, guests could see Nora or Hope

Nora will be swimming however on Wednesday, Aug 21 from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. at the Rocky Shores exhibit.

Nora, who was born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, arrived at Hogle Zoo in the fall of 2017 to be paired with Hope. Nora had spent the prior year at Oregon Zoo before making Salt Lake City her home.

Nora is described in the release as fun-loving and playful and is often called “silly” by her fans.

“Nora is one of the most special, most charismatic animals of our Hogle Zoo family,” said Dr. Erika Crook, Hogle Zoo Associate Veterinarian. “We have reached out far and wide to find experts to give her the best chance possible to get back on her feet. She’s in very good hands.”

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