|Qannik as a cub|
Qannik will celebrate her 4th birthday at the Louisville Zoo, Kentucky, today. January 10, in grand style, with a party, birthday cake, gifts, and a birthday song by her friends. She now weighs 425 pounds, a lot more than the 15 pounds she weighed when she was rescued from the North Slope in Alaska four years ago.
|Qannik and her toys - in a pool of ice|
The party starts with a peanut butter cake donated by Heitzman's Traditional Bakery and Deli. There will be a giant birthday card for everyone to sign, and her friends will sing Happy Birthday.
|Qannik in Polar Bear Alley in Glacier Run|
Since Qannik was born in the wild, no one knows her exact birthday, so January 10 was picked as the day to celebrate.
|Keeper Jane Ann feeds baby Qannik|
Four years ago, wildborn cub Qannik's story took a dark turn. She was found in the spring of 2011 on Alaska's North Slope, separated from her mother and sister by a severe storm. She only weighed 15 pounds, and she was starving. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with staff of the Alaska Zoo, rescued her. After a few months at the Alaska Zoo, gaining back her health, putting on some weight and making many new friends, Qannik was flown to Glacier Run at the Louisville Zoo.
|Baby Qannik playing on the steps|
Glacier Run, which had opened only a few months before Qannik's July 2011 arrival, is an ideal place for a polar bear cub to grow up. The innovative facility is built on three levels, to provide the polar bears an environment in which to build their back leg muscles by climbing up and down many stairs and ramps.
|Crowds gather to watch Qannik's antics|
The deep pool in the swimming area has a 22 foot observation window, where Qannik's fans can watch her swim and dive and do her little hiding tricks.
|Qannik playing with her favorite log|
Unlike her older companion Siku, who likes to swim only on occasion but would rather be on solid ground most of the time, Qannik is a little water baby. She loves to swim and perform her water ballet. She likes to hide her various treasures in a certain hiding hole in the pool, and then retrieve it, then do it all again.
|Dive, Qannik, Dive!|
Qannik's keepers realize that any kind of repetitive behavior can lead to stereotypical pacing, so they make sure they vary her schedule, her routine, her environment, and her toys.
|Playing with her log again|
The Louisville Zoo's innovative rotation schedule is designed to give the animal residents stimulating and exciting experiences during each day.
|Qannik run up and down stairways and ramps many times each day. It is great exercise.|
Polar bears, who evolved to walk many many miles in the Arctic, may be prone to stereotypical behavior when living in a zoo. The Louisville Zoo staff gives the bears opportunities for fresh adventures several time a day by moving the animals from one enclosure to another, and adding enrichment in many ways. Their toys are changed out. Interesting foods might be hidden in jute bags, boxes, paper bags and other containers. Food might be smeared on the walls and rocks. Qannik might have a tub or pool full of ice to play with. Food might be frozen inside ice blocks. Each day is full of surprises for the bears.
|Qannik is a water baby|
|Happy Birthday, Qannik|