Polar bears have been residents of the Denver Zoo for decades. Now, the two remaining polar bears are splitting up and moving out of the zoo this fall leaving the zoo with no polar bears for the foreseeable future.

The two bears, named Cranbeary and Lee, be relocated this fall to other zoos in the US. Cranbeary, a 16-year-old female, will be sent to the Alaska Zoo. Lee, an 18-year-old male, will be relocated to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

Officials at the Denver Zoo say the recommendation to move the polar bears comes from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan. The Denver Zoo is a long-tme member of the AZA and is involved with a number of breeding programs associated with the Species Survival Plan.

Holly Colohan, vice president for animal care at Denver Zoo said,

Polar Bears are an iconic species and have a long and storied history with the Denver Zoo, and we know they'lll be missed by our staff, volunteers, donors, and the community. Denver Zoo is committed to all of our animals, and while our polar bears receive excellent care, it's important they are paired with mates who may prove to be better breeding partners. The decision to relocate Cranbeary and Lee will benefit the welfare of both polar bears in the long run.

Courtesy Denver Zoo

The current polar bear habitat will be renovated to house the zoo's grizzly bears, Kootenai and Tundra. That move will provide the two grizzlies with a more suitable habitat than their current home at the zoo's Bear Mountain.

The Denver Zoo is committed to bringing polar bears back sometime in the future, but there is no timeline for their return. A new, innovative habitat will need to be planned and built. Before any of that can happen, the zoo will need to raise money to fund the construction.

[Denver Zoo]