A while back I posted the first part of a children’s story I wrote. It was written after the death of my grandmother. Unfortunately, she and I were never too close and other than a once a year visit we never spent too much time together. This wasn’t her fault or mine, but was due to my mother who chose to separate herself from that side of our family.
After her death, I knew I wanted to write something in her memory but I didn’t know what animal I wanted to focus on. My family is originally from NYC so I quickly went online to scan through the central park zoo. That’s when I learned that the Polar bear at the zoo was named Ida, the name of my grandma Dot’s twin sister who had also passed.
It felt like a sign.
Please enjoy, Dottie the Polar Bear Cub 💗
Dottie the Polar Bear Cub
Dottie the polar bear cub was completely content. She loved her home. Dottie loved climbing all the rocks. She loved climbing up to the highest point and jumping into the pool of water, making a big splash. Her mommy would get angry whenever Dottie climbed too high, but Dottie didn’t listen.
It was too much fun!
Dottie also loved her blue ball. She would tackle it, jump on to it, and play catch with her daddy. She loved wrestling with her daddy and climbing on her mother’s back.
Dottie loved feeding time too, because visitors would come into her home. Dottie loved all the humans who came to play. They usually had treats or toys. Sometimes they would poke and prod at Dottie, but the fishy treats she got afterwards for being a “good girl” always made her happy.
Her habitat also had a giant window. People would come visit, just so they could see Dottie, her mother said.
Dottie loved to make a big show for the people. Especially the little tiny humans that were her size. They wore things over their bodies that her mother said were to keep them warm. The humans only had fur on their heads. Some of the daddy humans had hair on their faces and none on their heads. Dottie thought this was very silly. She would walk up to the big window and make faces, throw her ball, splash the window and just be silly. Sometimes she asked the little humans to come play, but her mommy and daddy said they couldn’t come in.
One day, after Dottie had a big breakfast and lunch and a long swim she decided to walk past the window to see what humans had come to visit that day. She saw that there was no one looking in. This made Dottie sad. She decided that maybe she would go take a nap in the cave with daddy, she after all had a big long morning!
Just then, Dottie heard a knock on the big window. She turned around to see a little human girl stand at the window knocking. But there was something different about this girl. She had something on her paws, something bright and pink!
Dottie quickly ran across the habitat. She had to get a closer look!
Dottie walked right up to the little girl, placed her paws on the glass and called to her.
“Hey! Little human! What is that on your paws?”
The little girl giggled and called to her mommy. “Look Mommy, the baby polar bear likes me!”
Dottie knew that humans had a hard time speaking polar bear, so she tried again.
“Hey, little girl! What’s that on your paws? I like them!”
Dottie’s mother and father stuck there head out of the cave when they heard the commotion. Dottie’s mommy called to her.
“Dottie, come here! Stay away from the people!”
“No,” Dottie said, disobeying her mother. “I want those! I want to see her paw covers!”
Dottie’s mommy came down from the cave. She circled Dottie to protect her from the crowd that was forming.
“Dottie, sweetie, you don’t need those. Humans don’t have fur or protective pads on their hands and feet. They need to wear those covers, or mittens, on their hands to protect from the cold.”
Dottie’s daddy came down from the cave.
“Dottie, you are a polar bear. We don’t wear clothes. Forget the mittens and come here, it’s nap time.”
Dottie’s mommy and daddy lead her back to the cave.
She laid down in between her mommy and daddy and started to doze. As she fell asleep, she mumbled “We’ll see about that!”
As she slept, Dottie’s dream was filled with mittens. Mittens of every size, shape and color. Some had patterns and textures. In the dream Dottie dove into a pile of mittens, giggling as they flew everywhere.
When Dottie awoke, it was the middle Daisy Lowe the night. Her parents were still fast asleep in the cave. Dottie knew that one way or another she would find herself a pair of mittens!
Dottie knew there was a hole that food was pushed through. It was too small for a grown polar bear, but just the right size for little Dottie to squeeze through!
Dottie pushed herself through the flap covering the hole. It was a snug fit, but with a few wiggles and kicks, Dottie made it through.
Dottie recognized the room right away. This was the place where the zoo keeper gave her shots, and weighed her on a scale. This was also the room with the yummy fishy treats!
Dottie didn’t have time for treats. She was on a mission! Dottie pushed open the door and headed out into the center of the zoo.
She saw the other exhibits that surrounded her. Penguins, seals, even some fish! Dottie walked past all the sleeping mammals, birds, amphibians, and other creatures.
The zoo was quiet at night. Peaceful and beautiful. Every now and then she heard the sounds of the other creatures there.
Suddenly, in the corner of an exhibit, right next to a trash can, she saw it! They were white and red with some blue. They fit perfectly on her paws!
Dottie was so happy with her find. Her midnight search was a success!
Dottie ran back to her habitat as quickly as her little legs and arms would carry her. She snuck back in through the food shaft, climbed up to the cave and snuggled back in between her mom and dad.
The next day the Zookeeper was preparing his walk around the zoo. Every morning he liked to walk around and visit every creature in the zoo. As he was walking towards the Lion exhibit one of the workers ran to him.
“Allen, quick! You need to come to the polar bear exhibit “You’re not going to believe this….”
The zookeeper ran to the exhibit and saw a crowd of people “Oohing and Aweing” over the polar bears. Lights flashed as pictures were taken.
The zoo keeper made his way through the crowd excusing himself as he parted the large group of adults and children in front of the window.
That’s when he saw it.
“Why does the baby polar bear have cups on her front paws?” He asked the polar bear feeder, Bill.
“We don’t know!” Bill said. “We have no idea how she would have gotten ahold them!”
“Well, go take them off, and check the exhibit. Maybe someone was throwing trash in the exhibits.”
Dottie was very upset when her mittens were taken away. She tried to explain to the humans that she wanted them there, that her mittens weren’t hurting her. But the humans didn’t understand polar bear and took them away, calling her a very silly polar bear.
Dottie knew she had to get another pair of mittens.
That night, when her parents were asleep, Dottie snuck out of her habitat for a second time. She wiggled through the food shoot, opened the door and went back to the center of the zoo. Dottie walked farther this time, past the snakes, the lizards, the birds, all the way to the flamingos.
Dottie quickly discovered that flamingos are very smelly. The stench was overwhelming. Dottie sat down and put her paws over her little nose. She looked around searching for mittens. And that’s when she found it. They were white and red striped. When she stuck them on her paws she could smell something yummy and she got salt on her nose. But they fit perfectly, and that was all that mattered. Dottie was so excited! She quickly ran back to her habitat as fast as her little paws were take her. She pushed through the door, climbed down the food shoot, climbed the rocks to the cave, crawled between her mommy and daddy and fell fast asleep.
The next morning Zookeeper Allen was walking towards the gorillas when Veterinarian Sonja ran to him.
“Allen, come quickly! You have to go see the polar bear exhibit!”
“Oh no, not again!” Allen thought, as he ran to the polar bears.
There was a bigger crowd around the polar bears today. The flashing lights made Allen see spots as he made his way through the crowd.
Allen looked through the window. That’s when he saw it.
“Why does the baby polar bear have popcorn containers on her front paws?”
“I don’t know!” Said Sonja. “I went in to check Dottie’s weight, but she ran from me! We can’t get them off of her, she just runs away!”
“We need to find out how trash is getting into the exhibit. Please make a sign and put it on the window.”
The zookeeper wasn’t convinced that visitors were throwing trash into the exhibit. Allen decided that he would spend the night and watch the polar bears to see how the little cub was getting a hold of all this garbage.
Dottie was very upset that the humans had once again taken away her mittens. Dottie had put up a fight! She ran all over the rocks, yelling to them “No, these are my mittens!” But the humans didn’t understand polar bear. Eventually she was cornered by three caretakers. They grabbed her, took off the popcorn containers, patted her head and called her a “very silly polar bear”
Dottie sulked for the rest of the day in the cave. That night, when her mommy and daddy had finally fallen asleep, Dottie the polar bear snuck out of her exhibit for a third time.
This time Dottie turned left to explore another part of the zoo. She walked past the gorillas, the orangutans, and lemurs. It was hot in this part of the zoo! Dottie knew she couldn’t stay long in this area. She sat down and looked around quickly, trying to find a pair of mittens. That’s when she saw it!
There it was, lying on a bench all by itself. Some little child must have dropped it or taken it off and forgotten to grab it. There on the bench was a small bright orange knit mitten. There was only one and she didn’t really like to color, but Dottie didn’t care! Finally, a proper mitten!
Allen the Zookeeper had been camping out outside of the polar bear exhibit. Imagine his surprise when a baby polar bear strolled out of the backroom of the polar bear exhibit! Instead of grabbing Dottie and putting her back in the habitat, Zookeeper Allen chose instead to follow the little cub and see where she was getting all the trash. Allen kept his distance, tip toeing and staying silent. He followed the cub past the gorillas, past the orangutans and lemurs. Then he finally caught up to Dottie. He found her on the ground, struggling to put an orange mitten on her left paw.
Zookeeper Allen laughed loudly.
“So that’s what this has been about? You want a pair of mittens!” Allen picked up the polar bear cub and carried her back to the back room of the Polar Bear exhibit. He placed her on the ground. Dottie knew she was busted. She quickly slipped into the food shoot. Zookeeper Allen laughed again. He moved a chair to block the shoot and left the room. Allen had to go talk to his wife about a special project.
Dottie the polar bear cub was very sad. Ever since she was caught out of the habitat the Zookeeper and other zoo workers had made sure to block the food shoot every night. The little polar bear had no way of sneaking out of the exhibit at night and her mommy and daddy were keeping a close eye on her during the day. Dottie was no longer happy in her habitat. She no longer played with her blue ball. She no longer climbed up the big rocks and jumped into the pool. Dottie sat in the corner all by herself instead of looking out the big window. Even when daddy wanted to play she would wander off into the cave to sulk.
Allen was worried about the little cub. She wasn’t as active as before. She wasn’t climbing and jumping or playing with the animal handlers.
But Allen knew that he soon would have a special present for the little cub.
The day finally came! The zookeeper knew what a big day it was so he took an announcement out in the local newspaper.
“We are having a party! Come celebrate our beautiful polar bear cub Dottie! We are giving her a wonderful gift, and want you there to help surprise her!”
The crowd was huge outside the Polar Bear Exhibit. There were banners and colorful balloons. There were little humans with their faces pressed against the glass, hoping to spot a polar bear.
Once the clock struck 12:00pm Zookeeper Allen entered the Polar Bear habitat. Using the microphone on his collar Allen spoke to the crowd as Polar Bear handlers made sure that everyone was safe.
Allen walked over to little Dottie who was sitting in a corner.
“Come here” he said quietly, motioning to Dottie. “I have a present for you!”
He placed a red wrapped package in front of her. Dottie approached Allen, and patted at the package. The color was fun, and she liked the crinkle noise. Dottie wrestled with the package while Allen spoke to the audience.
“Dottie the polar bear was born 5 months ago. She was 2 lbs, blind, and yes, very cute. The first time I held her, she couldn’t see yet. I wrapped her in a blanket, and she smiled. I have told this to other zookeepers, who tell me that polar bears can’t smiled. But this little girl smiled.
Our polar bear habitat is very important. We use it to teach the general public about polar bears and their home.
Currently there are approximately 25,000 Polar bears in the Arctic, but this number is dwindling. Global warming is affecting the poles twice as fast as it is here. This means that ice is melting earlier and Polar bears are not getting enough food.
Polar bears are clever, and while they are very cute, they are also extremely dangerous in the wild. As you can see, I have many professional handlers around me to help with safety.”
Dottie had almost ripped into the box, so Allen knew he had to hurry along with his story. Zookeeper Allen then told the crowd the story of little Dottie the cub. How for three nights in a row she snuck through a feeding shoot out of her habitat and into the big scary zoo all by herself. But she wasn’t scared. Instead she explored. He told the audience about the soda cups on her paws. They laughed, and laughed even harder when they found out about the popcorn buckets.
And then he got to the end, where he described how he found her, cute little Dottie, wrestling with the orange glove, trying desperately to put on the mitten.
“And today I am very proud to present Dottie the Polar Bear with her very own custom mittens!”
Dottie stopped playing with the box. She saw it. The box had tipped over and something fell out. They were purple knit with silver strands knit through. Dottie was so excited she couldn’t contain herself! She shouted out, which sounded like a grunt to the humans around her. “Mittens! I have mittens!!!!”
She ran in circles, pranced her way to Allen the Zookeeper and pawed at his shoes.
A handler approached the two of them and picked Dottie up.
“Here you go, Dottie,” The Zookeeper said
Picking up the mittens, he then placed them on her paws. They put Dottie down, and she jumped and pranced and tackled her blue ball. Dottie was happy again.
And from that day on, unless she was jumping into the water, Dottie wore her mittens. As she grew, she was given bigger pairs. The zoo kept all the mittens and hung them in an exhibit that told the story of the clever and silly polar bear. Dottie was forever happy and content. She never wandered out of her habitat again.