Nora the polar bear is coming home: Visit her at the new Polar Passage habitat

Nora the polar bear is coming home: Visit her at the new Polar Passage habitat

She made a big splash when she arrived here in 2016, and left a big bear-shaped hole in our hearts when she went away the following year. Now, as the Oregon Zoo puts the finishing touches on its new Polar Passage habitat, Nora the polar bear is set to return.

“We’re so excited to welcome Nora back,” said Amy Cutting, who oversees the zoo’s marine life area. “She’s kind of like the kid who goes off to college and comes home all grown up. We can’t wait to get reacquainted and introduce her to the new Polar Passage habitat.”

Nora first came to Portland in September 2016 before moving to Utah’s Hogle Zoo, where caregivers introduced her to Hope, another female bear who is the same age as her.

Veterinarians at the two facilities have been in close contact to discuss some of Nora’s special needs. The 500-pound bear had metabolic bone disease as a cub, and she injured her leg in 2019, requiring surgery. While veterinarians say she has healed well, Nora has permanent skeletal structural issues that give her an unusual gait and will require special management throughout her lifetime.

Hope, Nora’s companion at the Hogle Zoo, is moving to a different zoo on a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for polar bears — a cooperative program that helps maintain a genetically diverse, self-sustaining population to guarantee the long-term future of these animals.

Another female polar bear will join Nora in Portland this fall. In the meantime, Cutting says, Nora and her Oregon Zoo keeper staff can get reacquainted and familiar with the new Polar Passage, which was conceived partly with her in mind.


To learn more about Nora’s story, go to