My Autumn Trip to Gelsenkirchen: Antonia

Oct 6th, 2018 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

6.10.2018 by Ralph

(I apologise for the small size and quality of these photos, as they are captures from videos which I shot on my phone and cannot be downloaded)

Monday 10th September and Tuesday 11th September

My trip to Gelsenkirchen started with a major disappointment. Because of the problem of the green stuff in the pools in the enclosures, Lara and her cub, Nanook, were only visible behind the grill in their den, and not at all on the Tuesday. However, I was able see Nanook and Lara together and swapping places and confirm that the pictures we have seen on various sites were right, Nanook is growing into a fine young lady.


All was not lost, as I was able to see at first hand how much thought had gone into the enclosure, and the way in which the platforms allowed the bears to swim underneath and explore. You can also see in the pictures, how a special gentle slope had been provided to allow Nanook to take her first steps into the water. The pictures I took in April make a lot more sense, when you can see what the pool looks like underwater.

Just to remind you what Nanook looks like, here is a rather sweet advert in the Zoo shop for cuddly replicas to take home.


Fortunately, my two days in Gelsenkirchen were not to be wasted. First of all, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time in the company of one of the long serving keepers at the Zoo over two days, and learn a lot about the Polar Bears and other animals. But, I was also fortunate to see both Bill and Antonia being much more lively than on my previous visits.


For those new to Knutis Weekly, Antonia is a very rare Polar Bear, who due to a genetic condition, has not grown to full size. Since her birth in 1989, this has not stopped Antonia from displaying all the qualities of her full size relatives. Antonia has proved that size does not matter, but attitude does!


This image on the glass sides of the tram stop at the Zoom Gelsenkirchen shows how much Antonia has come to mean to the Zoo.


Antonia, or Tony as she is known to her keepers and fans, is sometimes mistaken for a cub, but this lady is very much a grown-up bear.


Antonia has her own enclosure, where she is usually found resting and watching her visitors. She can be seen in the right hand glass window in this picture.





In one of the pictures above, you can see a blue barrel. Antonia does play with this now and again, but it is fair to say that Tony’s main interest is “food”. When she is not trying to get the keepers to come to the door of her den, she patrols her enclosure hoping that a keeper will appear.


From time to time, a keeper will appear and throw a suitable snack into the pool, to let us see Antonia in her element, as with this apple.


As the long time mascot of the Zoo in Gelsenkirchen, it is only right that Antonia should start off this sequence of stories.

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  1. Dear Ralph!

    Thank you very much for the interesting report!
    Antonia is a cute polarbear-Lady.
    I wish you a pleasant weekend!

  2. Dear Ralph,

    Antonia is the little big star in Gelsenkirchen so it was a good idea to start your reports with her.

    She’s a very self confident bear lady but she’s also interested in her visitors – and, naturally, she’s very interested in what the keepers will bring to her. 🙂

    Thank you so much for this Antonia Special!

    Hugs from Mervi

  3. Hallo Ralph

    Ich freue mich immer, die liebenswerte
    kleine Bärin Antonia bei guter Gesund-
    heit zu sehen. Danke für den Bericht !

    Liebe Grüße
    Chris 🙂

  4. Dear Ralph,

    Antonia is precious. So nice that you had a good time with her. And Bill.

    How interesting to see the pool empty! But bad luck that you didn’t see Lara and her daughter properly.

    Still, conversations with a keeper is a wonderful thing too.


  5. Lieber Ralph,

    wie schade, dass Lara und Nanook nicht im Außengehege waren, obwohl du zwei Tage Zeit
    in Gelsenkirchen hattest. War das bei dem letzten Besuch im Sommer nicht auch der Fall?

    Aber Antonia ist so eine bezaubernde Bärin, das hat dich vielleicht etwas versöhnt ebenso
    wie die persönlichen Gespräche mit den Pflegern, die dir immer gerne Auskunft geben – dem
    weitgereisten Bärenbotschafter aus England.

    Vielen Dank für deinen ausführlichen Bericht und liebe Grüße!

  6. Dear Ralph!
    Thank you for the pictures of Antonia. She would not survive in the nature. She was lucky to be born in the zoo. She looks very well.

  7. Dear Ralph!
    What a pity you didn´t see Lara and Nanook in their enclosure.
    But I agree with the former commentators, Antonia probably did compensate this disappointment. She´s a little sweetheart. No matter if she is nice or grumpy, she is loved by everyone. Although she is small, she is blessed with a healthy appetite…

    Good that you could talk to an experienced keeper, who answered all your questions.
    It must have been nice to see Bill too in a good shape.


  8. Sorry, I forgot to mention that I loved the sweet collage by Mervi and all your pics of Antonia.
    Thanx for sharing!


  9. Anke
    Fortunately in April I had seen Lara and Nanook on both days. I hope to see them in December again.

  10. Lieber Ralph,

    es ist wirklich schade, dass Du Lara und Nanook nicht sehen konntest.

    Aber zum Glück war Katjuschas kleine Schwester Antonia zu sehen, und noch dazu recht aktiv.
    Auch hast Du dich bestimmt gefreut, von dem Pfleger wieder einiges über die Bären zu hören.

    Mervi, Deine Collage ist sehr schön.

    Ralph, ich habe mir auch Deine Berichte aus Berlin angesehen. Das kleine Nashörnchen Karl ist auf Deinen Bildern noch sehr klein. Inzwischen ist der Bub schon ein ganzes Stück gewachsen.

    Ich habe mich auch gefreut, dass Wolodja bei Deinem Besuch so schön gespielt hat.

    Liebe Grüße

  11. Lieber Ralph,
    das ist schade, daß du Lara und ihr Kind nicht sehen konntest.
    Antonia ist wirklich eine besondere Bärin und der Liebling aller.
    Diese Kleine hat Charakter und für ihr Alter wirkt sie noch topfit.
    Vielen Dank für deinen wieder sehr interessanten Bericht über eine ganz besondere Bärin.
    Liebe Grüße Moni K

  12. Lieber Ralph!

    Antonia ist eine ganz besondere Lady und es ist schön, dass sie so einen tollen Bericht von dir bekommen hat.

    Liebe Grüße, Erika