Baby polar bear takes first awkward steps

Mike Krumboltz, Yahoo News

The Toronto Zoo this week published a clip of its newborn polar bear cub taking his first steps, and we challenge even the most cynical reader to not hit the "share" button and throw in a few "OMGs" and "a-dore-a-bles" for emphasis after watching.

The wobbly white creature, tough to tell apart from a puppy, stumbles, steps and stumbles some more on what appears to be a cozy white blanket.

Dr. Graham Crawshaw, senior veterinarian at the Toronto Zoo, told Yahoo News the male cub weighed just 700 grams, or about a pound and a half, when he was born in November. Now 2 months old, he weighs around 4.4 kilos, about 9.7 pounds.

The cub has yet to be named. The zoo will most likely organize a naming contest to help generate interest, Crawshaw said.

Polar bears are born "in a very immature state" compared with other animals, he said. "Their eyes don't open for three weeks or more." Cute as he is, this bear did not get off to an auspicious start. He had to be taken away from his mother because he was failing to thrive, a relatively common situation for polar bear mothers and cubs.

"He's being hand-raised in our wildlife health center," Crawshaw said. "Obviously we don't know what really happens in the wild," he added. "It depends very much on the mother. This mother was relatively young and she seemed to be learning. And she's made some pretty good progress."

There's no set date on when the cub will make its public debut in the flesh and fur. However, "we would hope to have him for visitors to see sometime in late February or early March," Crawshaw said.

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter at @mikekrumboltz.