The polar bear cub Qannik (KEN-ick) is heading for Louisville today. She was rescued in April by the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage after being separated from her family, and is now being adopted by the Louisville Zoo.
Louisville Zoo director John Walczak has been in Alaska with the Assistant Mammal Curator and Supervisor of Animal Training Jane Anne Franklin and veterinarian Dr. Zoli Gyimesi for a few days. They have been working with the crews in Alaska getting to know Qannik and preparing her for her journey and her new home.
“Getting Qannik back and adjusted and healthy and just having a well socialized transfer is step number one, and out philosophy on all of this,” Walczak says “of course all along is whatever is best for Qannik is most important.”
Many zoos stopped harboring polar bears because of the high cost, but Walczak says polar bears may need more assistance as global climate change progresses. She will join a 26-year-old polar bear named Arki as well as a family of three grizzly bears in the new Glacier Run exhibit.
“Part of the plan was always to be able to help support the population in zoos but certainly the remnant wild population as well,” says Walczak “and now here we are the exhibit has been open two months and I never would have dreamed that we could have helped the remnant wild population so early in the history of Glacier Run.”
Qannik will be brought back to Louisville in a UPS Boeing 747 scheduled to leave today on a direct flight back to Louisville. Mayor Greg Fischer first asked UPS to aid in the transport of Qannik, and Walczak says they have not only been masterminds of logistics in planning this trip but they are also providing the service as a donation.