Tonja: a superlative Polar Bear: December 2019

Jan 17th, 2020 | By | Category: Ralph's reports

17.1.2020 by Ralph Morton



These images of a Polar Bear have been painted in the tunnel leading to the glass viewing area at the enclosure in the Tierpark Berlin.



There is not room here (and the German reports have covered them) to repeat all the praise that the keepers give to Tonja at the 1100 Polar Bear talks. Let us just say she is a superlative Polar Bear and Mother.


Rather like Giovanna, Tonja has a very distinctive black skin marking on her nose. There are many similarities between the two.


The Tierpark in Berlin like in Hellabrunn knows that a superstar Polar Bear needs lots of things to do. This large roll or drum is a firm favourite. Tonja brought it over to show us.


The concentration and effort Tonja shows in moving the roll around is clear here.


Polar Bears have large paws with black skin showing, as Tonja demonstrates here!


Not sure if this is Tonja or Hertha, both have big paws!


During the Polar Bear talk, the keeper throws various treats into the water and gives visitors and opportunity to see how relaxed and at home the bears are.


I have cheated a little, as some of these photos are of Hertha, who is every bit as confident in the water as her mother.



Tonja has always enjoyed leaping into the water, something she has in common with Giovanna.



The keepers are quick to explain that Hertha (like Quintana in Munich?) is their Princess. So she ensures that she tries to steal the show from Tonja.


If Tonja can show us her drum, Hertha is a the mistress of the ball, in this case a rather larger one than her blue “Herthaball”.



I was fortunate in being able to distract Hertha from her ball. She has a distinctive marking on her nose similar to her mother but with a white v marking.

Now that Hertha has grown in size and has been so well trained by Tonja it was possible for me to study a lot of mother and cub behaviour. That will be the next of my Berlin reports.

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  1. Dear Ralph,
    it is great that you could enjoy Tonja and Hertha at the glass window. They both have many wonderful toys and are mostly busy with playing.
    Your pictures are very good.

  2. Dear Ralph,

    You have made a wonderful tribute to Tonja – the beautiful polar bear lady and even an excellent mother of Hertha!

    What a powerful polar bear Tonja is mastering the gigantic ball with such a brilliance! I’m sure we will soon see even Hertha doing the same.

    We’ve read before in Monika’s reports that Tonja is convinced there are no unbreakable toys – and I really believe her!!! 🙂

    I love the close-ups of the mother and the daughter just I like your idea of making ‘theme articles’. Thank you so much!

    Hugs from Mervi

  3. Lieber Ralph,

    deine detaillierten Beschreibungen und Beobachtungen sind immer ein Hochgenuss
    und machen deine Berichte zu etwas ganz Besonderem.
    Die Ähnlichkeiten mit der Fellzeichnung um die Nase von Giovanna und Tonja sind bisher wahrscheinlich
    nur dir aufgefallen. Die artistische Handhabung der Riesenrolle mit Tonjas großen
    Tatzen sind beeindruckend. Auch hier beschreibst du vielfältige Vergleiche zu Giovanna.
    Die tollen Bullaugen-Bilder der Bären sehe ich heute das erste Mal.

    Vielen Dank und liebe Grüße!

  4. Dear Ralph!
    I´m happy for you that you had a good time while watching Tonja and Hertha.
    Thank you for this lively and informative report.
    Tonja is for sure a self-confident, strong and caring mother for her feisty daughter.
    Fortunately she is still playful and able to teach Hertha many skills.
    And Hertha has already learned a lot…

    By the way I like the porthole paintings.


  5. Dear Ralph

    Thank you for the detailed report!
    Tonja is a very talented bear as
    mother and entertainer ! 😀
    I am shure, daughter Hertha
    will enter her footsteps later.
    She shows many promising
    skills today. You had a very
    nice time in Tierpark Berlin.

    Chris 🙂

  6. Lieber Ralph!

    Grossartige Bilder, besonders die beiden ersten.
    Danke fuer deinen wunderbaren Bericht.

    Liebe Gruesse, Erika

  7. Lieber Ralph,
    ich schaue auch immer genau die Bären an aber solche Unterschiede sind mir bisher nicht aufgefallen.
    Hertha und Tonja sind immer einen Besuch wert und auch wenn Hertha kein Baby mehr ist, sie macht Spaß.
    Danke Dir für interessante Beobachtungen von den beiden Berlinerinnen.
    Liebe Grüße Moni K

  8. Thank you very much dear Ralph.
    Best wishes to Tonja and Hertha.

  9. Lieber Ralph,

    wie ich sehe, hattest Du eine schöne Zeit im Tierpark.
    Ich wäre gerne dabei gewesen, aber wie Du weißt ging das leider nicht.

    Hertha lässt es sich nicht nehmen, immer wieder an der Scheibe hoch zu springen und die Kinder zu erschrecken.

    Liebe Grüße

  10. Wieder ein schöner Report mit interessanten Beobachtungen und Bemerkungen.

    Gut, dass mich MONIKAs Kommentar dazu animierte, hier mal wieder kurz rein zu sehen.

    Vielen Dank, lieber RALPH, dass Du so stramm all Deine detaillierten Berichte von vielen und vielfältigen ZOO-, TIERPARK- und TIERGARTEN-Besuchen weiterführst, inzwischen auch wirklich nicht nur interessante, sondern sehr gelungene und aussagekräftige Fotos hinzufügst und uns alle mit deren Veröffentlichung in KWM erfreust.

    And you, dear MERVI, get never tired to work on everything that’s given to you for publication in KWM and certainly means always considerable work also for you. THANK YOU.

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