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.
Related Story: Polar Bear Cub Rescued
Picture courtesy: Creative Commons Tableatny