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Another Polar Bear Cub Coming To Louisville Zoo

The Louisville Zoo is getting another polar bear cub for its Glacier Run exhibit.

Zoo director John Walczak says Siku, a 22 month old male cub, will arrive in Louisville early this fall from the Toledo, Ohio Zoo.

“Our hope is that in the not too distant future that Siku will become best friends with Qannik, our female cub that we helped rescue from the North Slope in Alaska. She was the female abandoned by her mom back in April. This is just creating a great future for Glazier Run and polar bears here in Louisville,” he said.

Walczak says it’s hoped that the two young polar bears can eventually be bred. Glacier Run is also home to an adult female polar bear and three grizzly bears.

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Polar Bear Cub Qannik Bound for Louisville Today

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.

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Zoo Director Hopes To Expand Elephant Exhibit

The director of the Louisville Zoo says he hopes the zoo can resume its breeding program that produced Scotty the Elephant.

It was just over two months ago that thtree year old Scotty died of complications from colic. Scotty was the first elephant born at the zoo and in Kentucky.

Speaking on WFPL’s State of Affairs program Monday, zoo director John Walczak said Scotty’s mother, Mikki, is a viable candidate for another pregnancy.

“We’re looking at a bunch of different options, because we want to remain committed to elephant conservation. We hope to really grow the program and someday we have plans to have a new elephant exhibit just like we’re talking about a new polar bear exhibit, so down the road we want to do more and more to try to help the species,” he said.

Walczak also said the zoo is looking at the possibility of reopening its popular miniature train ride. It’s been closed since June of last year, when it crashed, sending 22 people to the hospital.

State investigators blamed the wreck on excessive speed, an inadequate braking system and driver inexperience. The zoo was fined $37,000. Walczak says the zoo has since hired a safety consultant to inspect all of its amusements.