Siku, Two Year-Old Male Polar Bear Cub comes to Louisville Zoo
The Louisville Zoo will soon have two polar bear cubs who call Glacier Run home. In early Fall Siku, a two year-old male polar bear cub from the Toledo Zoo will join Qannik, the seven month-old rescued Alaskan cub, and Arki, an adult female polar bear, along with the grizzly family of Inga, Otis and Rita. Siku’s name means “ice” in the Iñupiaq language and was chosen by schoolchildren on Alaska’s North Slope. Qannik’s name means “snowflake” in the Iñupiaq language and was also the name of the ConocoPhillips Oil field where she was found.
Upon Siku’s arrival in Louisville he will be off exhibit in a private den with an adjacent pool and play area for a standard 30 day quarantine, a typical period of isolation from other animals, restricted access to the public, and intense health and behavioral monitoring by keepers and veterinary staff before he goes into the exhibit rotation with Qannik and Arki. Polar Bears are solitary in the wild so there is no plan at this time to exhibit the bears together. Viewing status updates on both Qannik and Siku will be available on the Zoo’s website at www.LouisvilleZoo.org.
Siku’s placement at the Louisville Zoo was a key factor in Operation Snowflake, the collaboration between Alaska Zoo and Louisville Zoo, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Polar Bears International (PBI) and UPS that placed the rescued cub, Qannik, in Louisville. The determination was made because both the physical and psychological needs of both cubs could be met in Louisville. “It is a little sad when our animals leave,” said Dr. Randi Meyerson, who was instrumental in the decision making process. Myerson is the Toledo Zoo’s Curator of Mammals and the Coordinator of the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), one of the AZA’s cooperative breeding management programs, “But the Louisville Zoo’s new Glacier Run bear habitat is an excellent facility with a lot of space, flexibility, animal-training and enrichment options. Siku, Qannik and Arki have a promising future there. They will play an important role as ambassadors for polar bears in the wild, and help inspire the public to decrease their carbon footprints.”
The Zoo hopes eventually to breed Siku and Qannik, but no formal plans have been made at this time. Qannik being a wild born bear would add an important genetic diversity to the captive polar bear population.
The bear habitat of Glacier Run, the Louisville Zoo’s newest exhibit, opened in April 2011 and shows the Zoo’s commitment to the species in both the facility design and programming. The Louisville Zoo worked closely with PBI in the process of designing and building Glacier Run and through this partnership the Zoo has been designated as an Arctic Ambassador Center. Designed as an imaginary town on the edge of the arctic wilderness, Glacier Run is modeled after Churchill, Canada, the polar bear capital of the world and a place where humans are learning to co-exist with wildlife. The exhibit offers spectacular views, captivating stories of the arctic and unique opportunities for close-up encounters with the magnificent and iconic polar bear, as well as grizzly bears, seals and sea lions. Guests can interact with zoo keepers, learn about current challenges to arctic environments and animals, and discover how incremental changes in our everyday activities and behaviors can make a difference for our planet and these magnificent species.
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The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the American Association of Museums (AAM) and by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).