Whoops! Polar bear cub at Berlin Zoo is the product of siblings

·1 min read

Well, this is awkward.

After conducting genetic testing, it was reveled that the popular polar bear cub, Hertha, who resides at the Tierpark Berlin Zoo, is the offspring of accidental incest breeding between siblings.

In a statement released by the Berlin Zoo on Tuesday, they claimed a clerical error at the Moscow Zoo listed the wrong parents of the polar bear named Tonja. Tonja would eventually mate with Berlin’s polar bear Wolodja and had Hertha in December 2018.

“This serious mistake is a very regrettable setback for the responsible work of the European Conservation Breeding Program,” said Berlin Zoo’s director, Andreas Knieriem, in a statement.

Last year, the Berlin Zoo grew suspicious of Tonja’s birth date after they were made aware of contradicting documentation that were discovered by Moscow Zoo biologist Marina Galeshchuk.

Shortly after an investigation was launched, zoo officials discovered that Tonja was listed as the daughter of the wrong parents due to a mix-up with another female polar bear who was born just a few days later.

“If we had known about the relationship between Tonya and Wolodja, we would, of course, not have recommended the two polar bears for breeding. That was a mistake,” Knieriem said. “It must now be a matter of learning from such mistakes and putting our work in all areas even more on a scientific basis.”

Because the bears involved in this situation are part of the European Endangered Species Programs, an organization that seeks to create and maintain genetic diversity amongst captive polar bears, Tonja or Hertha are not allowed to have any children.

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