Arctic adoption.



A large female polar bear named Allie crawled across the grass while trying to marshal two rather excitable young seals.  The seals were named Sasha and Sandy.  Sandy was a harp seal, Sasha a common grey.


Allie had adopted her “cubs,”  as she called Sandy and Sasha, when their mothers had died giving birth to them.  Allie had lost her own cub to an angry male polar bear.  Torn apart by grief for her cub, Allie had made her way down to the beach where female seals hauled out to birth their young.  Hiding herself behind a large snowdrift, Allie watched Sasha and Sandy’s mothers as they gave birth to them.  Food was the last thing on Allie’s mind as she watched the seal pups emerging into the world.  She realised something was wrong when the harp seal and grey seal mothers didn’t move from their prone positions after the pups had been born half an hour, and their pups had spent that time scrabbling around on the frozen ground.  Allie knew she still had milk for her cub, and thought she might try to rescue these two seal pups, in the hope her milk would give them enough nutrients to survive.  Rushing forward with as much speed and aggression as she could muster, which wasn’t much in her state, Allie scooped up the two tiny pups and ran off with them.  Conveying them to her den, Allie settled down to suckle the two seal pups.  Fortunately they didn’t know how to fear Allie, and milk was their only concern.  Allie had a lot of milk to give, so the pups were soon fed.  Allie decided she’d hide with the pups for as long as she could, hoping they’d soon be strong enough to allow her to go and find food for herself.  Months passed, and Sasha and Sandy became strong young seals.  The fact they were two different breeds of seal didn’t matter to them, as they’d known nothing else but living with each other, and the knowledge their mother was a polar bear also didn’t trouble them, as her love and care was all they’d known.  As Sasha said to anyone who’d listen:

       “My mum’s a polar bear, and isn’t that cool!”  Allie loved her “cubs,”  as she called them.


Allie reached the door of a house which had attracted her attention.  Banging on the door with the flat of her paw, Allie waited for Sasha and Sandy to crawl up beside her.  Just as the seal pups arrived, the door opened and a large male snow leopard looked at Allie.

     “Can I help you?”  Salty asked.  Allie looked at the snow leopard.

    “I’m looking for a home,”  she said.

“What’s your name?”  Salty asked.

      “Allie,”  Allie replied.

     “My name’s Salty,”  The snow leopard replied.  Salty looked at the two seal pups.

      “do those two also want a home?”  Salty asked, waving a huge paw at Sasha and Sandy.

      “oh, yes, those two too,”  Allie replied, “They’re, well, my cubs.”  Salty never missed a beat.  Leading Allie, Sasha and Sandy into the house, Salty listened to the swish scuff of Allie’s paws, plus the shuffling from the flippers of the two seals on the lino flooring of the hallway.  Entering the lounge, they met Leo, who stared at the newcomers.

       “More strays?”  he asked.  Salty nodded.

      “this is Allie,”  he replied, waving a paw at the female polar bear, “and these two are,,,”  he looked at Allie for help.


“The harp seal’s name is Sasha, and the grey’s name  is Sandy.”  Salty smiled at them and looked at Leo.

     “now you know as much as I do,”  he said.  Leo held up a huge paw to stop Salty.

      “Don’t polar bears eat seals?”  he asked.  Sandy and Sasha looked terrified!

       “They do, well, usually,”  Allie replied, “though this one doesn’t, I rescued them after their mothers died.  They’re, well, they’re my cubs.”  Leo looked into Allie’s eyes.  He saw nothing but love for the seals as Allie spoke of them.

      “You’re telling me those two are your cubs?  How silly can you be!”  Isaac scoffed, “all they’re good for is eating!”  Allie’s fur stood on end and, snarling with rage,  she ran at Isaac!

      “Okay, okay! Stop it both of you!”  Leo commanded.  Allie walloped Isaac over the head with her paw, dropping him.

       “Noone threatens my cubs!”  she yelled.  Leo’s first impressions were confirmed.  Allie’s reactions were instinctive, as if the seal pups were polar bear cubs.

     “Stranger things happen,”  Leo thought, very moved by the situation.  Looking at Allie, Leo waved his paw, indicating she should leave Isaac and come to him.  Allie crawled over to Leo, and the huge lion hugged her.

     “I can see you love those seal pups,”  Leo purred.  Allie smiled, surprised a lion would hug her.  Leo looked over at Isaac, who glared at Allie.

      “You try anything, I’ll break your paws!”  Clarence growled.  Isaac knew of Clarence’s strength, and didn’t want to cross him.  Crawling away from Sasha and Sandy, Isaac curled into a corner, hiding from Allie, who he was sure now hated him.


Leo stroked Allie’s paws, the polar bear smiling at him as his paws worked over hers.

     “We’ll look after you and your cubs,”  Leo purred.  Allie looked over at Salty, who smiled and padded nearer.  Allie hugged him, Salty smiling as Allie threw her warm soft paws round his neck and embraced him.  Salty snuggled up to the female polar bear, her pups shuffling closer for a better view.  Releasing Salty, Allie’s eye fell on snowy, who smiled at her.  Before Allie could react, Sandy had crawled over to snowy, the huge snow tigress enveloping the grey seal pup in a huge hug.  Cradling Sandy in her paws, snowy purred contentedly, while Allie, unable to work out whether she should be fearful for her pup’s safety, stared at snowy.

      “such soft fur you have Sandy,”  snowy purred.  Sandy, unable to think of anything to say, snuggled up to the snow tigress, not knowing how to fear a creature she’d never met.  Snowy felt the seal pup snuggle up to her, it’s warm fur against her own.  Allie, her mouth dry with fear, couldn’t ask Snowy to let go of her pup.

      “it’s okay Allie,”  Leo said, “Snowy’s gentle, she won’t harm your pup.”  Allie saw Leo blink back tears as he spoke to her.

      “What’s wrong?”  Allie asked, surprised at herself for asking this huge lion about his most private thoughts.  Leo, realising Allie had seen his rush of emotion, wiped his eyes with one large forepaw and took a deep breath.

      “it’s nothing,”  he replied, but Allie knew Leo was desperately upset.

      “Something you said to me upset you,”  she said gently.  Leo stared down at his paws, for his emotions were getting the better of him again.

      “I must control myself!”  Leo thought, biting his bottom lip to stop himself from weeping, “pull yourself together Leo!”

       “It’s nothing, nothing at all,”  Leo choked.  As he said it, he knew what he was saying was rubbish, and it seemed Allie knew it too.

      “You told me everything would be all right,”  the female polar bear said gently, “did you have a cub with the same name as me?  Or maybe your mate had the same name as me?”  Leo tried to turn a sob into a cough, but Allie knew how close to the edge he was.  Allie threw caution to the wind and hugged Leo close.  This broke Leo’s fragile control on his emotions and he burst into tears.

      “Allie was the name of your mate wasn’t it,”  Allie said gently as Leo cried into her fur.  Leo nodded, unable to speak.  Allie gently held Leo until the lion’s tears dried.

      “I’m so sorry,”  Leo sniffed, “I shouldn’t have got so emotional about that.”  Allie touched Leo’s paw with hers.

      “I know what it’s like,”  she said, “for I lost my cub, and the mention of her name reduced me to tears for ages afterwards.”

      “What was your cub’s name?”  Leo asked.

      “Whitie,”  Allie replied.

We have a snow leopard cub named Whitie here,”  Leo said.

     “Do you?”  Allie asked, “I hope she’s as gentle as my Whitie was.  I called my cub Whitie because she had no pigment in her skin at all, her nose was white, her eyes were white, and so were the pads on the soles of all four paws.  I knew she’d have problems with sunburnt pads etc, but she was my cub, and I knew we’d get round the problem somehow.  Now she’s dead, and I’ve only memories of her.”  Leo wondered if Allie would look round every time Whitie was mentioned, hoping to see her cub.  If so, life would be tough for her.


Snowy released Sandy and it was Sasha’s turn to be hugged by the snow tigress.  Allie looked round at the sound of tiny paws scuffing the carpet.  A snow leopard cub crawled into the room.  Allie couldn’t take her eyes off the cub.  She was so small, and there was something about her which instantly drew Allie to her.

      “that snow leopard cub,”  Allie thought, “I can’t take my eyes off her!”  Whitie was so named because she had very few spots on her, being almost completely white from her ears to the pads on the soles of her tiny paws.  Leo saw the expression in Allie’s eyes.

      “that’s Whitie,”  he said gently. I want to hug that snow leopard cub!”  Allie thought, “but I can’t, for it wouldn’t be right.  She’s not my Whitie, she’s not even my species!  She’s a snow leopard cub!”


Whitie and Sandy were soon playing together, Whitie pleased to have been accepted hook line and sinker by this strange creature who had fur from nose to tail, and flippers instead of paws,  but wasn’t a fish or like any mammal she’d ever encountered before.  Sandy, after trying to stroke Whitie’s paws with her flipper and failing, ended up using her whiskers to do the job, making Whitie laugh helplessly.  Once this was over, Sandy insisted Whitie meet her sister and her mum.  Whitie wasn’t surprised when Sandy introduced Sasha, but became extremely confused when Allie appeared in front of her.  Whitie knew what Allie was, she was unmistakably a polar bear, and didn’t polar bears eat seals?  Whitie kept her mouth shut, remembering she’d been fostered by a snow tigress.

      “hello Whitie,”  Allie said, trying not to show how much just saying the name of her dead cub tore at her.

      “Did I say something?”  Whitie asked, sensing Allie’s distress.

     “No Whitie, you haven’t said anything out of place,”  Leo said, “Allie’s dreadfully upset.”

      “how can I upset Allie?”  Whitie asked, “I’ve done nothing, nor said anything to her!”

       “Allie lost her cub Whitie,”  snowy said, “her cub had the same name as you.”

      “Oh great!”  Whitie snapped, “bloody wonderful this is!”

     “Don’t use that language!”  snowy remonstrated.

      “this stupid polar bear thinks I’m her cub now does she?  Well I’m not!”

       “Whitie,”  Leo said, “if blanche died suddenly, wouldn’t mention of her name bring back memories of her?”  Whitie hadn’t thought of it that way.

      “I suppose so,”  Whitie replied.

     “it so happens you look a little like Allie’s cub too,”  snowy said.

     “Now this is really scary!”  Whitie mewed, “how the hell, I mean  on earth can a snow leopard cub look like a polar bear cub?”

       “Whitie, my Whitie that is, or was,”  Allie replied, “had similar markings to you, that is to say you’re nearly all white from ears to paws, and she was all white, right down to the pads on the soles of her paws.”  Whitie knew her pads were white, though Blanche’s weren’t, and Blanche also had the lion’s share of spots.

      “I see what you mean now,”  Whitie mewed, “I do have white pads, and you can see them when I’m crawling over the carpet.  I’m sorry I got angry Allie.”

      “You’d better apologise for swearing too you disgusting cub!”  Tarker yelled.

      “I think that can be overlooked,”  Snowy said, “on account of the stressful situation.  Just don’t do it again Whitie.”  Allie looked at Whitie, examining the snow leopard cub.

     “you are so much like my Whitie,”  Allie said, examining Whitie’s tiny left forepaw.  “You are of a similar age too,”  Allie concluded.  Whitie didn’t know what to make of this.

     “I’m nearly white from my ears to the pads on the soles of my paws,”  Whitie said, “and my name happens to be Whitie.  This doesn’t mean I’m your cub, have been your cub, or want to be your cub!”

      “No, you’re right, I’m sorry,”  Allie said.  Whitie tore her paw from Allie’s and crawled away as quickly as she could place her paws on the carpet.


Back upstairs, Whitie angrily told her mother what had taken place between her and Allie.

       “Allie’s probably never got over the death of her cub,”  amber replied, “and hearing her cub’s name, along with seeing a cub who looked like her lost cub, even if it was a different species, probably upset Allie a great deal.  She meant no harm I’m sure.”

     “but it was strange, she almost wanted to adopt me as her cub, I’m sure of it!”  Whitie mewed, “I’m not her cub!”

       “I know that, and I’m sure Allie does when she’s in her right mind,”  Amber said, “but she’s seeing in you similar things which made her lost cub who she was, be it a white coat, or even white pads on the soles of your paws.  Grief does strange things to the minds of us all Whitie.  Just hearing the name of a loved one, or seeing something which was associated with them can trigger memories of that someone.  To Allie, you probably looked like her cub in all but stature.  She wasn’t seeing a snow leopard cub when she looked at you Whitie, Allie was seeing her own cub.  For you might look very similar to the cub she lost.”

     “I don’t understand all this,”  Whitie said, “I’m not Allie’s cub, I’m yours, and Snowy’s!”

      “You’re not Snowy’s cub Whitie,”  Amber replied, “but you feel as at home with her as you do with me.  In fact, you aren’t Tigger’s cub either, but he adopted you as his own cub.  You didn’t complain about that.”

      “He’s a cat, like I am,”  Whitie mewed, “you’re a cat mum, so’s snowy, Allie’s not a cat!”

     “Nor is she a seal,”  if Allie’s the polar bear I saw marshalling those two seals in the garden a few hours back.”  Amber replied, “ you’d never try and doubt the love Allie feels for those two seals, or the love they feel towards her, would you Whitie?”

      “No,”  Whitie replied, “but Allie can’t love me, I’m not her cub!”

      “You’re more her cub than those seals are,”  amber replied.  Whitie didn’t know what her mother was driving at.

      “I don’t want to go anywhere near her ever again!”  Whitie yelled, “Allie’s horrible!”

       “When Allie was stroking you downstairs,”  amber said, “How did you feel? Apart from confused that is.  Did it feel okay to you?”

       “Well, yes it did,”  Whitie admitted, “as if she was desperate to love me like she had her cub.”  Amber looked up, and nodded at Allie, who’d crawled in as silently as she could during their conversation.  Whitie felt two soft, padded paws envelope her, and her reaction was instant.  Whitie snuggled up to Allie, for deep down, the snow leopard cub knew the female polar bear wanted to love and protect her.

     “I know you’re not my Whitie,”  Allie said softly to the snow leopard cub, “but you look so much like my little Whitie cub it’s unnerving.”

     “Whitie cub,”  Whitie thought, “now it’s my turn to burst into tears, for Allie doesn’t know what she does to me when she uses that name.  I’ll bet she called her cub “Whitie cub”  and it had the same affect on her cub then as it has on me now.”  Whitie snuggled up to Allie, working her paws into the polar bear’s thick fur.

      “I was nearly noone’s cub when my mum ran away from us in fear after the hunters found us in the mountains,”  Whitie thought, “if it hadn’t been for snowy I would still be noone’s cub.  Isn’t it better to be someone’s cub?”  Whitie snuggled up to Allie.

      “I’m Snowy’s cub as well as my mum’s cub,”  Whitie said, “I can also be your cub too Allie.”  Allie stroked Whitie’s ears.

       “While my Whitie will never be forgotten, I can love another cub, another Whitie cub.  Let me hug you little cub, my dear Whitie cub,” Allie said softly.  Whitie snuggled up to Allie, weeping into her fur.

       “shh Whitie my dear, it’s all right,”  Allie said softly, “everything’s going to be all right.”  Allie groomed Whitie from nose to tail, the cub finally relaxing.

     “That’s better isn’t it?”  Allie asked.  There was no answer from Whitie, for she was asleep.  Allie curled herself round Whitie, enveloping the snow leopard cub in soft warm fur.


Sasha and Sandy arrived, saw what was happening and gathered round Allie.

      “Looks like mum’s done it again,”  Sasha remarked.

     “Allie wouldn’t be herself if she didn’t do what she does,”  Sandy said, “our mum’s one wonderful polar bear.”



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