Weather forecast postpones Alba The Bear’s birthday bash

Alba, the Andean bear cub at the Salisbury Zoo, is turning 1 this weekend, but the impending storm has delayed her birthday party.

Instead of Saturday, the party has been rescheduled for Jan. 30 from 1 to 3 p.m., according to Chris Demone, who handles public relations for the mayor’s office.

At the community party, the birthday girl won’t eat the same cake as the public is served at the free event, but will get her own version, plus an enrichment toy as a gift.

Residents who have followed her since her surprise birth last winter can donate to the zoo in her honor.

“We’ll have an animal-friendly cake for her,” said zookeeper Caleb Oliver, who playfully called her Kevin, a name he randomly choose, before her gender was certain and she was named in a citywide contest.

“She has grown very fast and put on winter weight,” he said, estimating she’s about 100 pounds now. Her mother, Chaska, who recently turned 6, weighs about 250 pounds. Father Gritto, died earlier this year at age 24, but had the silly nature Alba inherited, Oliver said.

“She is still climbing a lot. She likes dragging things up the trees. We got some Christmas trees from Lowes, that were donated to us, and she spends hours dragging them up the tree,” said Oliver, who always has a smile in his voice when he talks about her.

“She is totally fearless. She’s still hyperactive and energetic. She loves to climb and mess with her toys. She’s a little goofier than Chaska, who was mischievous. Alba is playful and goofy. Silly,” Oliver said.

Cake served at her party will be made by Cakes by David. A logo showing her happily rolling on her back, balancing the cake, was  designed by Peppermint Narwhal Creative.

In April, it was announced the cub – a surprise to the zoo staff – is a girl. Pictures of the little Andean standing on her back feet, poking out her tongue and cuddled in her mother’s arms, were posted on Facebook as Oliver observed the baby’s stubborn streak and announced her first physical. Just 15 pounds at the time, she was pronounced healthy and was vaccinated.

At first, Chaska kept her inside the habitat, with its comfortable piles of bedding and heated floor, but occasionally dragged her out. Visitors waited to catch a glimpse, noticing every detail and snapping pictures.

Eventually, she will probably be sent to another zoo for breeding, but on her birthday she will be a Salisburian, to the delight of animal lovers who remember Gritto and Poopsie before him.

Poopsie, known for reclining in her hammock, lived to be 37 and was arguably the oldest in the world, Oliver said.

Shortly after Alba’s birth, he praised Chaska for being “a really wonderful mom, especially considering this is her first one.”

“She’s done so well. It isn’t uncommon for them to lose a baby, so we kept them quiet at first. Now, she is doing some roughhousing with the baby. She can be rough with it, but they’re bears. She picks it up and drags it the way she wants to go. She seemed to know everything to do, like she has memories from her mom doing it,” Oliver said.

As the days passed, little Alba learned more communicative bear sounds, smaller versions of the mother’s that Oliver described as trilling.

“It’s adorable listening to them make sounds back and forth to each other,” he said at the time. “Every milestone in her development is fascinating. The whole experience has been pretty awesome.”



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