Photo in the News: Polar Bear Triplets Born in Zoo -- A First?

Photo: Polar bear triplets
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March 14, 2006—They say good things happen in threes, and for this polar bear mom good luck descended in one fell swoop.

The three cubs pictured above are believed to be the first set of polar bear triplets born in captivity. The trio made their public debut last Friday at the Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands (see map) city of Rhenen.

In the wild, polar bears frequently give birth to more than one cub at a time, although triplets are far less common than twins. What's more, cubs compete for access to mother's milk. In a set of three, stronger siblings often force the runt of a litter to die of starvation within its first year.

Even in zoos, where food and care are plentiful, nearly half of the polar cubs born in captivity die. But Ouwehands Zoo officials seem to have luck on their side: All three cubs are healthy and are expected to survive into adulthood.

—Victoria Gilman

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