Aalborg – My first day with the white ladies

Apr 17th, 2019 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

17.4.2019 by Ralph Morton

After Copenhagen, I was eager to get back to Aalborg to visit Malik and her daughters, Nuka and Qillak. I have been visiting them since 2016 and you will find reports of some of my previous visits under Ralph’s Reports.


A plaque from the EEP shows Malik and her two girls. I was worried that they might already by moving to other Zoos. However, Aalborg have decided that they have enough space to separate them from each other and Malik when they reach the weaned stage. I was assured that Zoos in Western Europe were already standing by to give them homes. At present Malik is still nursing them and playing with them.

Wednesday 13 March


I arrived on the first day of my three visit to find the girls playing in the water in the lower enclosure. They had been given nice big fishes to eat.


Tyres make a welcome toy for all Polar Bears and the girls are no exception. Playing with food seems to be instinctive from birth. Chewing and biting the rubber while moving it around is very like eating prey in the wild.


The sisters have grown, though one is still smaller. In this shot they look almost the same size.


There are always interesting things on the rocks to lick as well. The boulders serve as pillows and massage tools.


Malik appeared and the family looked in the direction of a keeper, hoping for some more fish.


Polar Bears have black skin under their fur, and this often shows at their noses, but it is unusual to see the skin show through the ears.


I was really happy to find that the girls were still friendly and curious, coming up to the glass whenever anyone was around.

The younger girl had not forgotten our smooching at the glass and we were soon matching each other at the lower window.


Matching our heads against the glass and turning to and fro seemed to be a natural game. Both of us enjoyed ourselves.


Polar Bears like to bring one another presents of food or toys as a bonding ritual.



I managed to capture the moment I was presented with a crab claw. I was so happy to be able to bond with the girls again on the first day. I am sure that they will be great mothers one day and will also be more than a match for any Polar Bears they share a new Zoo with.

Rainy first afternoon in Aalborg


I was not lucky with the weather on this trip. Fortunately the enclosures in Aalborg have overhangs which keep the rain off. In the afternoon on Wednesday 13 March the girls came up to the glass front of the upper enclosure to show me how big and beautiful they were.


Mum Malik is of course also big and beautiful.


The sister have always quarrelled, as all Polar Bears do, but Malik is still quick to rush across and stop any fighting.


Any plastic bag containing food always attracts Polar Bears. A black nose will head as close as it can to the enticing smell.


Inside the trapper’s hut next to the Upper Enclosure (a convenient place to warm up a little and watch the bears) is a viewing camera. As you can see from this still taken from it, Malik has not yet weaned her cubs and they are still a family.


Another view of Malik serving afternoon drinks to her girls.


From time to time the family move between the enclosures. Here is Malik taking time for a well-earned rest.


The African Hunting Dogs have always provided an opportunity for Malik to show how she would defend her family against a threat. Here they are all ready for action. Malik is usually much cleaner than the girls. They still have a lot of growing to do before they will be as impressive as Mum.




I always call this cub “Muddy Paws” and she soon found that I was sheltering inside the hut. I could imagine what it must be like for scientists on an expedition in Greenland or Svalbard when such a young bear is outside their temporary home.


When they are very small, Polar Bear cubs have pink tongues but they soon go purple like all Polar Bears.


The sisters really have very expressive faces, full of curiosity and mischief.


Who could refuse such a look? But the glass protects both of us!


The sisters look very different when clean and white.


I am not sure whether this is big sister or Malik, but the paws are a reminder of how large they all are!


Another shot which could be either Malik or the bigger girl. It is interesting how some Polar Bears are much whiter in colour than others when clean.


Malik is in fact rather yellower than the older sister.


Though in this final photo of Wednesday afternoon she looks whiter. I was so glad to have been able to meet Malik and her girls, perhaps for the last time, and there were still two more days to go.

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  1. Lieber Ralph,

    vielen Dank für deinen ausführlichen Bericht aus Aalborg mit vielen Fotos.
    Deine besonderen Beobachtungen hinsichtlich der Zunge und der Farbe der nassen
    Ohren unter dem Fell sind immer wieder interessant zu lesen.
    Die Entwicklung der Jungbären hast du wieder sehr detailliert geschildert.

    Vielen Dank und liebe Grüße!

  2. Lieber Ralph,

    schön, dass Du wieder in Aalborg warst. Schade, dass das Wetter nicht so schön war. Aber wie ich Dich kenne, hat Dich das nicht wirklich gestört.

    Die Mädels sind ja ordentlich gewachsen.
    Ich kann auf den Fotos nicht wirklich erkennen was das für ein Spielzeug ist, aber die Bären hatten scheinbar viel Spaß mit dem Teil.

    Super Foto, wo Malik ihre schönen Tatzen an der Scheibe zeigt.

    Liebe Grüße

  3. Dear Ralph!
    It must have been touching for you to see Malik and her girls again, probably for the last time together.
    Nuka and Qilak have grown up now and will leave their mother in the nearer future.

    What a pity it rained so much during your stay.

    It is always a bit sad when polar bear cubs have to leave their mother and their home zoo. I hope they will find good new homes for both and they will have a bight future!
    Their father Lars could be proud of them for many reasons.
    My favourite pic is the one with the big paws on the pane.


  4. Dear Ralph,

    It’s really good that the 2+ cubs all have a possibility to stay in their home zoos even after the separation from their mothers. Thus there’s no hurry to move them to other zoos. Let’s hope there will be good solutions for Nuka, Quilak and the others.

    A tyre is a popular toy for all polar bears and the Aalborg family is no exception.

    I love the close-ups of the lovely faces. We can take a good look at the eyes, the eyers and the nose.

    Malik has a full control of not only the polar bears’ enclosure but even the neighbours. 🙂

    Once again your photos show how many different facial expression polar bears have!

    I can imagine how happy you were being able to see the Aalborg polars so close by the glass.

    The photo of Malik ‘waving her paws’ by the glass is wonderful!

    Thank you so much for the first report from Aalborg!

    Hugs from Mervi

  5. Lieber Ralph!

    Wunderschöne Bilder hast du mitgebracht, danke fürs Zeigen!

    Liebe Grüße, Erika

  6. Dear Ralph!
    Thank you for the pictures from Aalborg. It is great to see the daighters of Lars.

  7. Lieber Ralph

    Du bringst viele Fotos mit aus Aalborg.
    Die “Kinder” sind groß geworden.
    Erstaunlich, dass sie noch bei
    der Mutter trinken dürfen.

    Grüssle Chris

  8. Dear Ralph,
    Wonderful report, and so many good photos. The girls are doing well.
    Thank you for sharing your adventure.


  9. Dear Ralph, thanks for your interesting report and the Fotos of the goodlooking Aalborg Bears. Wonderful, that they are doing well.
    Lots of Eastergreetings to you and all here from Copenhagen

  10. dear Ralph,
    thank you so much for your interesting report and for all the wonderful pictures of the lovely Polar bear family from Aalborg.I can imagine how great it was to see the bears so close the window. They are all looking so sweet and are interested in all the things around the enclosure.
    big paw waves and dear greetings to you

  11. Lieber Ralph,
    die Schwestern und ihre Mutter sind noch zusammen und das bleibt hoffentlich auch noch eine Weile so.
    Wie alle Kinder und natürlich auch Teenie-Eisbären wollen sie spielen und es ist alles interessant.
    Vielen Dank, hat Spaß gemacht zu sehen wie es der kleinen Familie geht.
    Liebe Grüße Moni K

  12. Congratulations for the impressing award to the AALBORG ZOO!
    Seems it’s good news to get to know that zoos are already queuing to welcome the girls should the time come for separation from their mother MALIK.

    My impression was also always that “Matching heads against a visitors’ window and turning to and fro seemed to be a natural game” and friendly sign and interest shown also towards visitors, even though there are several who say that this is mere ‘assault tactic’!(?).

    Your report is again very interesting with well chosen accompanying pics. I especially loved your photo
    you did untitle “The African Hunting Dogs have always provided an opportunity for Malik to show how she would defend her family against a threat . . . “. simply great: the rather white mother and the greyish daughters at her two sides all united in full concentration and curiosity.

    Thank you very much, dear RALPH for another report sharing personal and general observations
    (and MERVI for making your report ‘KWM’-fit 🙂 ).