Goodbye Olinka! Remembering a caring mother bear

Feb 11th, 2021 | By | Category: The Memory Lane

12.2.2021 by Molly Merrow

A patient mother, a gentle bear. Olinka is being remember with much love.

She died at Rotterdam Zoo on Tuesday, February 9, following a decline in her health in the past few months. She was put under anesthesia, and it was found that she had advanced liver and kidney disease, and a very large liver tumor, so it was decided the kindest thing would be to let her go. She had just turned 28 in November.

olinka smile

Olinka was born November 21, 1992, in Cologne, Germany. Her mother was Olga, and her father was American born Omaha. She was the only cub fathered by Omaha, and she has American cousins. Her mother Olga went on to give birth to Felix and Nord, fathered by Eric, who was also the father of all eight of Olinka’s cubs.

Unlike many polar bear cubs, Olinka stayed with her mother Olga for many years, sometimes moving away, but then returning to Vienna and her mother and Eric.

Through the years, Olinka lived in Vienna, Bremerhaven, Gelsenkirchen, and finally Rotterdam. She and Eric produce eight beautiful cubs: twins Lloyd and Nika in 2000, Lara in 2004, twins Arktos and Nanuq in 2007, Vicks in 2010, and twins Sizzel and Todz in 2014.

Olinka beard

She was a very involved mother, a nurturing mom. Sometimes with twins, a mother bear lets the cubs entertain each other while she supervises from a distance, but not Olinka. She was always in the middle of the action, even with twins, and obviously enjoyed playing with her children, being their climbing toy, their chew toy, their swimming buddy, whatever they needed.


cub hug olinka

Olinka kiss

If a cub was hanging back along the shore, she would swim over and gently entice them in to the water. She let the little ones climb all over her, and never lost her patience. She was 22 years old when Sizzel and Todz were born, but she acted like a young mother with them, very active and oh so loving, as she taught them the skills they would need.

Olinka water

Olinka cub water

Olinka shake

When it was time to nurse, she would gently lead them to her favorite private spot, and they would settle down for some quiet time. Then when it was playtime, she was up and joyfully romped and swam along with her little ones.

Olinka the mother

Olinka nursing

She gave her cubs all her love, and that love lives on in them, and her grandchildren. The next generation, Olinka’s grand children, are Lale and Lili in Emmen, Anna and Elsa in Bremerhaven, cousins Nanuk and Nanook in Munich, Hamish in Yorkshire Wildlife Park, and Vick’s brand new cub in Mulhouse France.


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  1. Ergänzend noch ein kleines VIDEO aus der Zeit von OLINKA mit ihren Zwillingen ARKTOS und NANUQ, geboren am 30. November 2007 im ‘Tierpark SCHÖNBRUNN’ (Wien) – wie gestern Nacht noch um 23:10 Uhr in ‘Die Knuipe’ eingestellt ( zusammen mit dem Link zu einem Video aus dem zuvor genannten Tiergarten, in dem vom neuen Direktor die Geburten und Neuzugänge während der Lockdown-Phase bis 8. Februar 2021 vorgestellt werden ): – aus 2008

    [ – aus 2021 ]

    Einen angenehm-sonnigen Freitag wünsche ich allen KWM-Lesern/Schauern!

  2. Dear Mervi and Molly
    I visited Olinka in November 2006 in Gelsenkirchen
    when she was there with her daughter Lara..
    The keepers told me that she was a loving but strict
    mother. Lara has learnt from her and has brought Nanook
    up the same way. Court mourning for this great Polar Bear

  3. Dear Molly and dear Mervi!
    Once again, we are saddened by the news of the death of a special and beloved polar bear.
    The great photos and informative and loving text touch the heart and show what a beautiful bear and wonderful mother to all her children Olinka was.

    What a pity that wild animals often hide how sick they are to the point where help is no longer possible.
    Olinka has travelled back and forth a lot in her life and I have long wondered if and how much the health of the travelling bears is damaged by all the general anaesthesia….

    Sleep well, you beautiful bear. You will be deeply missed!


  4. Dear Molly and Mervi!
    It is very sad that Olinka passed away. I never met her, but I saw her kids in the zoo Hanover.
    R.I.P dear Olinka.

  5. Ich habe Olinka in Wien erlebt mit den Zwillingen und denke gerne daran, sie war eine tolle Mama. Das Gehege war damals nicht so gross und toll wie jetzt aber Olinka hat alles super hingekriegt.
    Ich bin traurig aber sie muss nicht mehr leiden und sie hatte ein schönes Leben. Schlafe gut liebe Olinka und euch danke für die wunderschöne Abschiedsseite.

    Liebe Grüße, Erika

  6. Liebe Molly,

    vielen Dank für deinen liebevollen Bericht über Olinka, die nach deinen
    und den Erinnerungen anderer hier eine wundervolle Mutter war.
    Die Bilder sprechen für sich!

    Es ist immer wieder der Leberkrebs bei Baeren, da fragt man sich bei der Häufigkeit
    nach den Ursachen dafuer. Da die Leber ein Entgiftungsorgan ist, muesste es eigentlich mit
    der Ernaehrung zusammenhängen oder, wie Anke vermutet, möglicherweise infolge der vielen Narkotia, die den “Reisebären” zwangsläufig verabreicht werden. Ich glaube das mittlerweile auch.

    Ruhe sanft du schöne Bärin!

    Traurige Grüße

  7. R.i.P Olinka

  8. Thank you, dear Molly, for your beautiful and honourable lines about this good-natured, patient and friendly bear.
    May she rest in peace!

  9. dear Mervi and dear Molly,
    thank you so much for all the lovely pictures and for the good words, Olinka had a good life and she was happy and content to be a wonderful Mama Her keepers and all her friends will not forget her.
    dear Olinka you will meet so many friends in the Regenbogenland, you will not be alone there.
    dear greetings

  10. I am so sorry. May Olinka rest in peace. We will never forget her. We will always love her. We love you Olinka.