The Louisville Zoo lifted the new polar bear cub’s quarantine status today. The cub was rescued in Alaska’s North Slope region in April and has been kept isolated to acclimate her to the new surroundings.
Her removal from quarantine today means that she is one step closer to being on display. However, Qannik won’t be on display just yet, the zoo will allow her to make her own decisions about moving into the new areas.
Jane Ann Franklin is the bear’s handler and says she is like Qannik’s surrogate mother.
“She relies on us to give her cues to whether she should be aggressive, whether she should retreat or whether she should stand her ground;” Franklin says “and so we have to be mom for her and make sure that she has some stability in her life and we are the constant in her life.”
Franklin has been teaching Qannik basic skills like swimming as well as developing her instincts.
“The next steps for her will be getting accustomed to the transfer chute that she has to step out into from where she is at now, go down a hallway make a short turn then go up a set of steps, then she’ll be in what is called bear alley,” says Franklin “we’ll let her tell us how fast she wants to do that, we want her to get comfortable, we will encourage her but we will not push her.”
Qannik was extremely underweight at 17 pounds when she was rescued but has successfully reached 93 pounds since coming to the Louisville Zoo. A full grown female polar bear can weigh around 600 pounds and can live for about 30 years in captivity.
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