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Polar bears at Osaka zoo served fruity ice treats to beat the heat

Ho-chan the polar bear cub touches a block of ice with apples inside at Osaka Tennoji Zoo on July 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Yusuke Kori)

OSAKA -- A female polar bear cub and her mother at Osaka Tennoji Zoo in this west Japan city were treated to large blocks of ice with apples inside on July 19 in a bid to beat the heat.

    Zookeepers placed three ice blocks -- each measuring 28 centimeters in depth and width and 45 cm in height, and weighing some 10 kilograms -- at a display area. While 8-month-old Ho-chan repeatedly approached the blocks, she did not take a bite; instead, her 7-year-old mother Icchan ate everything.

    "We want them to keep cool, even if only slightly as these hot days continue," said Kenji Aburaya, a 48-year-old zookeeper in charge of the polar bears. "We'll be happy if people who watch the event can also feel cool."

    Icchan the polar bear, left, is seen biting a block of ice with apples inside as her cub Ho-chan approaches, at Osaka Tennoji Zoo on July 19, 2021. (Mainichi/Yusuke Kori)

    The annual event is usually held at the zoo in Osaka's Tennoji Ward in line with the hottest day of the year under the traditional Japanese calendar, which falls on July 22 this year. The event was moved to the zoo's holiday for the second year in a row to avoid crowds of people as a measure to prevent coronavirus infections.

    The event, which was livestreamed online, can be viewed on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/Eo6U1Fyk2i4.

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Kori, Osaka City News Department)

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