Local News Next Louisville

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.

Local News

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.

Local News Next Louisville

Work Continues On Zoo Polar Bear Exhibit

The Louisville Zoo continues work on the next phase of Glacier Run, the Arctic themed exhibit that will feature polar bears, sea lions, and Amur Tigers. Visitors will be able to observe the animals in a mock-up of a Canadian mining town, complete with a gold mine and a general store. A timber walkway above the town’s main street will allow polar bears to amble right over the heads of spectators.

On the outskirts of the town, huge walls of ice and stone are rising into the sky. These cliffs have been constructed out of concrete and rebar by the Cemrock Company of Tucson, AZ, which also built the zoo’s award winning Gorilla Forest exhibit. Cemrock artists have labored to give the concrete life-like details such as lichen and stress fractures.

The sea lion enclosure at Glacier Run opened on June 30. Zoo officials hope to open the polar bear enclosure in early 2011.

(Story and photos by WFPL intern Simon Levine)

State of Affairs

The Changing World of the Polar Bear

Tuesday, April 12, 2010
The Changing World of the Polar Bear
When we see them in pictures, or at the zoo, they look fun and cuddly. But if you’ve ever read or heard anything about the polar bear, you know they are fierce predators. Did you also know they are disappearing? Scientific evidence points to the polar bear as being least 200,000 years old, but how much longer the species will last is still a matter of debate. Join us on Tuesday when we talk with author Richard Ellis about his work regarding polar bears, and call us with your questions.

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Blog Archive Environment Blog

A Third More Polar Bears Starving

A report in New Scientist describes new research from the University of Alberta, Canada, showing more polar bears are starving. Scientists tranquilized bears and took blood samples in 1985 and 1986, then again in 2005 an 2006. Based on the ratio of two chemicals in the blood, they could tell which bears were fasting (at a time of year when most bears are feasting to store up fat for summer). That number increased three-fold over those 20 years.

Their explanation? Loss of sea ice, on which the bears hunt for seals, and possibly a loss of seals, which build dens for their young on the ice.

The bears’ problems are far from over. Arctic sea ice has been melting for decades, but scientists say that melting has been accelerating over the past few years. Some even say we’ve reached the point of no return, meaning that we’re losing so much ice every year that it won’t be able to recover. There was slightly more ice (4.6 million sq. km) left at the end of fall 2008. But that’s just slightly more than all of 2007 (4.3 million sq. km), the second lowest coverage on record.