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1st polar bear cub born at Hokkaido zoo in 40 yrs gets dreamy name

Yume the 6-month-old polar bear is seen at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on July 2, 2022. (Mainichi/Nobuaki Tsuchiya)

ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido -- The first newborn polar bear cub seen in 40 years at a zoo in this northern Japan city has been named "Yume," meaning "dream."

    Emiri Nitto, who named the polar bear cub "Yume," is seen second from right at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on July 2, 2022. (Mainichi/Nobuaki Tsuchiya)

    In the naming ceremony held at Asahiyama Zoo on July 2 for the cub, 18-year-old Emiri Nitto, 18, a resident of the neighboring town of Higashikawa who came up with the name, said, "I hope she will carry everyone's dream and swim well."

    Though the zoo was Japan's first to successfully breed a polar bear, until Yume was born on Dec. 10 last year, it had not produced any cubs since 1981. She has since grown to 90 to 100 centimeters long and weighs roughly 40 kilograms. She is also now able to swim energetically.

    Yume the 6-month-old polar bear, right, and her mother Pirika are seen at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on July 2, 2022. (Mainichi/Nobuaki Tsuchiya)

    Asahiyama Zoo's public relations office put out a public call for name suggestions, and "Yume" was picked from 1,547 proposals. Zoo Director Gen Bando said, "A lot has happened in the last two years with the coronavirus pandemic, but we hope people will be able to dream in the future. I think it's a good name with a such wish."

    (Japanese original by Nobuaki Tsuchiya, Asahikawa Bureau)

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