Martha photographed in October 2019 ( Royev Ruchei Zoo)

Name:  Martha (female)

Born: Probably winter 2016/2017 in the the wild

Mother: Unknown

Father: Unknown

Siblings: None known

Current location: Royev Ruchei Zoo, Krasnoyarsk, Russia

History of captivity:

  1. Captured in Norilsk, Russia 20 June 2019
  2. Arrived by air at Royev Ruchei 21 June 2019

Progeny: None

Additional Information

This bear was wandering around the city of Norilsk for four days before being sedated and captured.  She had been living on scraps from the city dump and was deemed to be in poor health and needing urgent treatment, not least for chronic diarrhea.

Subsequently it has been theorised that the bear had been raised as a captive animal, probably by poachers, based upon her relative relaxed nature around humans and her reactions when placed in a cage. 

It is not yet known whether the bear will be released into the wild or kept at the Royev Ruchei Zoo but given the comment by Viktor Nikiforov, coordinator of the sea animals programme of the Russian Marine Mammal Council, the latter seems most likely.  He said that “This young female bear has been fed by humans for almost a month and has grown used to them. In my opinion, this means that she cannot be released into the wild.”

On 19 July 2019 the Zoo’s press office reported that the bear was being kept in quarantine quarters and was gaining weight.  It was further reported that a new enclosure with a swimming pool was being prepared for her. 

In October 2019 it was reported that the bear had been named “Martha” and that she was in a new temporary enclosure with her own swimming pool, with a decision yet to be made about her future. Read the full article here (opens in new window).

A number of articles were published about the events at Norilsk and some of these are linked below:

Caught! The Norilsk polar bear needs urgent medical help, say experts (opens in new window)

Lost, starving polar bear rescued by Siberian zoo (opens in new window)

Emaciated polar bear rescued from garbage dump in Arctic maybe ‘lost sister’ of orphaned Ursula (opens in new window)

Return to Captive Polar Bear Directory

Page updated 11 November 2019