Qannik The Orphaned Polar Bear Cub Moves To Louisville

The Louisville Zoo is getting a special delivery with the arrival of Qannik, the 5-month-old orphaned polar bear cub who received national attention after being rescued on an Alaska oil field in April.   The cub is being shipped on a UPS Boeing 747-400 today from her temporary home at the Alaska Zoo.

Qannik, which is pronounced (Ken’ick) and means “snowflake” in the Inupiat language, was first seen in February leaving her den with her mother and a sibling.  She was spotted again by ConocoPhillips employees in April all by herself.  The employees reported the cub to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services who conducted an aerial search for the mother and second cub, but couldn’t find any clues to their whereabouts.

Qannik, who weighted only 15 pounds was rescued and sent to the Alaska Zoo for rehabilitation.  The cub thrived at the zoo, but the facility knew it could not accommodate another full grown polar bear.  A search called Operation Snowflake began to find Qannik a permanent home.

Ironically, the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky had opened its state-of-the-art Glacier Run habitat one day before Qannik was rescued.  Experts decided the facility would be the best permanent home for the cub.

“It was determined the best placement for this little cub would be Louisville, where both her physical and psychological needs could be met,” Dr. Randi Meyerson, the coordinator of the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums said to the Courier-Journal.

Glacier Run sits on 4-acres and includes a chilled pool, an air-conditioned area to sleep, a grassy section and a “pine needle digging pit.”  It is designed for six adult polar bears and up to six cubs.

Qannik will be joining 26-year-old Arki, a female polar bear who came from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago and Inga, a 6-year-old grizzly bear and her two cubs.

Qannik will make the journey on June 27 in the company of John Walczak, Director of the Louisville Zoo and the director of the Alaska Zoo.  Operation Snowflake has been a partnership between the two facilities for the past two months.

Click Here to see an adorable video of Qannik getting ready for her big journey.

Related Story:  Polar Bear Cub Rescued

Picture courtesy: Creative Commons Tableatny


Alicia N.
Alicia N.5 years ago

SO adorable! good luck to her. I really wish he was free..............

Danuta W.
Danuta Watola5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan5 years ago

Meant hope.

Judith Corrigan
Judith Corrigan5 years ago

I hopr this is a decent zoo.

Monique D.
Mon D.5 years ago

Hope she thrives in her new home

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Yes, Rita, a lot different. The Polar Bear cub was rescued as an "orphan" and would have died otherwise. The zoo has a new exhibit (environment that provides all the necessities that he will need to be very much "at home", and far different than a huge pacaderm being cooped up in an unnatural situation, although I don't remember the specifics at the Toronto zoo.

Rita Flynn
Rita Odessa5 years ago

Toronto Zoo received grief for housing an Elephant out of an environment it was accustomed to, now a polar bear is in Kentucky is this any different??? I would like thoughts, if people know that this is any better????

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Jennifer, don't you think your comment would have been more fair if you'd said, "we all know the horrors of SOME zoos"? Many are very "state of the art" with all the amenities of a natural enviroment. Yes, there are terrible ones, and that is what we all need to work towards being eliminated or improved. The one described here seems to be one hat fits into the category of a model for others to emulate.

Jennifer B.
Jennifer M.5 years ago

Sounds like a nice home, but we all know about the horrors of zoos... I hope this one isn't like that! 4 acres is a lot bigger than the tiny cages at the Fort Worth zoo. Poor baby, I sure hope they take excellent care of her.

Loo Samantha
Loo sam5 years ago

thanks for sharing.