Today, June 28 marks Qannik's first anniversary at her new home, Glacier Run at the Louisville Zoo. She is still a media darling. The Louisville Zoo has produced a wonderful DVD documenting her first year called “Qannik: A Polar Bear Cub's Journey.”
Qannik and her sister were born in January of 2011 (a guess, since she was born in the wild). In April, she was found wandering alone, separated from her mom and twin sister, near an oilfield. She was drastically underweight, just 15 pounds, about half what she should have weighed at that age.
The rescued cub was nursed back to health at the Alaska Zoo, where she won over many fans and friends, and poignant photographs of this sweet little bear girl recovering from her traumatic experiences circulated around the world, making headlines and bringing attention to the plight of the polar bear in today's changing environment.
When it was time for Qannik to leave her friends at the Alaska Zoo, UPS generously provided the logistically complicated flight to bring Qannik and her staff to the Louisville Zoo. That big adventure was called “Operation Snowflake.” Grandma Arki, from the Brookfield Zoo, was the only other resident of the brand new Glacier Run habitat at that time.
When asked about when Qannik and Siku will be put together, zoo staffers say that the bears have to be mentally ready for that step. In addition, Qannik will have to put on some more weight so she is closer in size to her companion. Because Qannik is property of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the zoo must also get official approval for such a step.
The staff at the zoo always take their cues from the bears when it comes to activities and schedules. The bears come first.
|Zoo Director John T. Walczak chats with Qannik|
Qannik still is a busy little girl, playing with her toys and swimming. She currently has an interest in putting things like sticks, or frisbees, or balls, or her new golden egg, into a crevice in the rocks underwater, and is always surprised when they float to the top. And then she just does it again. You can see she is trying to figure things out.
|Qannik is trying to stick one of her toys into an underwater hole, a favorite activity.|
|Greeting her fans...|
|Hello to a special visitor.|
|It's time for my close-up|
|Kisses from Qannik|
Grandma Arki is swimming more, and “dancing” very little these days, thanks to the many enrichment activities offered by the zoo staff. Arki was supposed to be part of a zoo training talk on the day of my visit, but the old lady decided to take a nap. She had been swimming for quite a while that morning, so she was tired out.
Qannik can look forward to an anniversary party with presents and treats on her special day. She is one lucky girl. Happy Anniversary, Qannik!