New polar bear at Como Zoo helping test out 3M technology Technology New polar bear at Como Zoo helping test out 3M technology

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Home Technology New polar bear at Como Zoo helping test out 3M technology
New polar bear at Como Zoo helping test out 3M technology

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New polar bear at Como Zoo helping test out 3M technology
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October 13, 2021
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Kulu Como Zoo polar bear article

Kulu, a nearly 2-year-old male polar bear, is the newest resident of Como Zoo’s Polar Bear Odyssey. (Como Zoo & Conservatory / FOX 9)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) – The Como Zoo is adding another polar bear to its habitat, and he’s helping researchers test a new technology for tracking wild polar bears.

Kulu, a 23-month-old male polar bear, recently came to the Como Zoo from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium where he was born in 2019, the zoo announced Wednesday. Kulu joins the zoo’s other two older resident polar bears, Nan and Neil.

Kulu Como Zoo polar bear

Kulu the polar bear came to the Como Zoo from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, where he was born. (Como Zoo & Conservatory / FOX 9)

Thanks to Kulu, the Como Zoo is now part of the “Burr on Fur” program, which is testing new tracking devices that stick to a polar bear’s fur. The tracking devices are designed to provide a minimally invasive way of tracking wild polar bears, according to a news release.

Researchers at 3M developed four new prototype polar bear tracker tags, which are now in the pilot phase, the zoo said. The tags need to be able to withstand extreme cold, snow, saltwater and some polar bear-specific actions such as rolling in the snow. The “burr on fur” approach allows the device to latch onto and “stick” to a polar bear’s fur.

Researchers are testing some of the tag designs on wild polar bears in Canada, but also are also starting to test some of them on zoo bears at nine different zoos and aquariums across the U.S. and Canada. Deploying the tags on zoo bears will allow researchers to closely monitor how they perform under various conditions—information they would be unable to obtain from wild bears.

Kulu is one of the bears in captivity who is testing the prototypes, which range from mechanical solutions to adhesive solutions and everything in-between.

Visitors to the Como Zoo can see Kulu in the deep-water exhibit of the Polar Bear Odyssey habitat. He is currently separated from Como’s other two polar bears, but will be able to be in the same exhibit as them after his mandatory quarantine ends.

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