Friday, January 28, 2022

Qannik celebrates her 11th birthday!


 Qannik munches on some pumpkin ice at her party

Ever since Qannik's arrival as a tiny cub back in 2011, the Louisville Zoo has celebrated her birthday on a selected Saturday in January with a gathering of fans and some treats for the Ice Princess. Her actual birthday is unknown, but is January 10 has been designated as her day.

This year, the party to celebrate her 11th birthday was held on January 22, under a bright clear blue sky. Yes, it was cold, but of course Qannik didn't mind a bit.

One of the keepers arranges the "11" for Qannik's 11'th birthday.
Qannik has always liked pink.

The keepers opened the big gate to wheel in the birthday treats and gifts, while Qannik paced in the bridge overhead, impatiently watching the preparations.

Across the way, Lee yawns lazily, not invited to the party.

Lee with his Christmas tree, knocked over, of course.

Across the way, older male bear Lee relaxed in the alley room, mostly napping. He was still celebrating Christmas, with a tree there for him to play with.

Lee thinks: "She gets a giant pickle, and all I got was this stick of wood."

Photography was difficult, what with harsh shadows, reflections, glare from smudges on the glass made by Qannik earlier that morning, the crowds, and fogged up glasses and viewfinder.

Qannik enters the party scene.

Still, it was a great day. Everyone looked up towards Qannik on the bridge and sang Happy Birthday. When the gate was  open, Qannik rushed down the ramp to see the party favors. 

Little cardboard Qannik

A cute cardboard polar bear was quickly inspected and knocked over.

She knocks it over, of course.

Of greatest interest were the orange and green ice treats, made with pumpkin (her favorite) and colored with koolaid. She would throw them up in the air, so they would break apart when they crashed down. She's very smart.

Qannik tackles one of the ice treats.

Meat chunks were laid down in front of her birthday sign, but the birds got there first, while Qannik was occupied with the pumpkin flavored ice chunks.

A grand party scene.

Her main gift was a new giant pickle. Her old pickle was worn out, destroyed by the grizzlies. 

Qannik paid attention to the pickle for about five seconds,
then knocked it into the water.

The crowd drifted away, and Qannik was left alone to enjoy the pumpkin ice. She knocked her new pickle into the water, then went back to her snacking.

Qannik climbs the ramp to the bridge.

Then she decided to go visiting, climbing the ramp to take the bridge over to where Lee was spending the day. A door separates them, but they are still friends. Lee was at the top of the stairs, sniffing at the girl on the other side.

Polar Bear Alley neighbors:
Qannik on the bridge, to the left,
Lee on the stairs, to the right.

Lee on the stairway in Polar Bear Alley.

This little lost bear cub, found wandering alone in the oilfields of Alaska in late April of 2011and weighing just 15 pounds, has come a long way. After a couple of months in the Alaska Zoo, Qannik was flown by UPS to the Louisville Zoo, where she was given everything she needed to grow up happy and healthy.

Visitors can still see Qannik's transport box on display,
used back in 2011 during "Operation Snowflake"
 as the rescue mission was named.

Qannik is doing just fine, now weighing about 550 pounds.