The Maryland Zoo’s Two Grizzly Cubs Get Some Names

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Photo by Jeffrey F. Bill, Courtesy of Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Two one-year-old bear cubs that endured a long journey to get Baltimore are finally home, and now they have some names, too.

In a poll-based naming contest, more than 6,000 people who use the internet decided upon Nova and Nita, two names the zoo says are derived from Native American languages.

Assuming the translations come from the languages spoken by the Salish and Kootenai tribes on whose lands the cubs were found last year, the names are fitting. Wildlife experts first came upon the bears without their mother in Montana, and, upon seeing one was “failing,” determined the cub had been shot. (They later found the mother had also been shot and wounded more gravely and put her down for humane reasons.)

After veterinarians nursed the grizzlies back to good health, Maryland Zoo staff answered a national call to take the bears in and organized for their transport from Montana to Baltimore with help from an anonymous donor. They settled in at Druid Hill Park’s zoo in late February and soon after became acclimated. At that point, they just needed names, so the Maryland Zoo launched a contest in late March.

According to the zoo, 29 percent of voters picked Nova (which the zoo says translates to “chases butterflies”) and Nita (which translates to “bear”). The other options were Casper and Helen, honoring the benefactor who paid for their transport, Salish and Kootenai (see above), Maple and Juniper, named after tree species, and Iris and Violet, named after types of flowers.

The zoo unveiled the winning names in an announcement today. Click here to watch the reveal and see the beastly cubs frolicking around.

Now that they’re acclimated to their new habitat, the public can come see the pair daily from 10 a.m. under 2:30 p.m. in the Polar Bear Watch exhibit.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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