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Orphaned Alaskan-born Polar Bear Cub Coming to Buffalo Zoo

8:42 PM, Mar 22, 2013   |    comments
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Kali,Photo courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

BUFFALO, NY-- The Buffalo Zoo's polar bear cub, Luna, will be getting a playmate soon.

An orphaned polar bear cub found in Point Lay, Alaska earlier this month will be coming to the Buffalo Zoo.

The three to four-month-old male cub named Kali will be transported from the Alaska Zoo to the Buffalo Zoo sometime this spring.

"The Buffalo Zoo provides an excellent, short-term home for Kali, where his physical and developmental needs can be met," said Service Director Dan Ashe. "Working in partnership with AZA, we are considering the Saint Louis Zoo as a possible final destination for Kali. We recognize that the Saint Louis Zoo is in the process of building a state-of-the-art polar bear exhibit expected to be completed in 2015. Our goal is to work with the Zoo to ensure the proper standards of care are met for the polar bears who will eventually find a home in St. Louis"

Photo Gallery:  Meet Buffalo Zoo's newest polar bear cub

"At the Buffalo Zoo, both cubs would benefit from each other's company during this important period in their development. Peer-raising animals is generally preferred over human-rearing whenever possible," commented Dr. Randi Meyerson, coordinator of the Polar Bear SSP, one of the AZA's cooperative population management programs and a critical component in assisting endangered and threatened species. "The Buffalo Zoo's staff has more than 20 years of experience working with polar bears, including young animals. Eventually, after the cubs have been introduced to one another and are bonded and doing well, we will work with the Fish and Wildlife Service to find a permanent home for Kali in a facility that meets the latest husbandry standards adopted by the AZA."

"We are pleased to collaborate with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on the placement of this polar bear cub," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. "As this species continues to face threats in the wild, AZA's long-standing relationship with USFWS is becoming crucial to the survival of orphaned cubs. By working together, we are able to place the bears in AZA-accredited facilities, where the highest standards of animal care and welfare, conservation, education, research and veterinary services are met."

"We are thrilled to have been chosen to receive Kali," said Buffalo Zoo president Dr. Donna Fernandes. "Recovery of orphaned cubs is one of the reasons we are building our new polar bear habitat, Arctic Edge. Both cubs will benefit immensely from the opportunity to play with one another to ensure that they learn to be bears and not become too attached to human caretakers."

"The rescue of this orphan polar bear may give us an opportunity to increase the genetic diversity of the bears in the care of AZA zoos and to further conservation, breeding and education about these bears," said Dr. Jeffrey Bonner, Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "We appreciate Fish and Wildlife Service's leadership in responding to the plight of polar bears in the wild and know that their consideration of the Saint Louis Zoo as a final home for this bear is a testament to our more than 80 years of experience in caring for this species and to our plans to build a state-of-the-art polar bear exhibit."

The Zoo is planning a new 'Arctic Edge' exhibit for their polar bears and other arctic, sub-arctic animals.  They have started a fundraising campaign to raise the remaining funds for the project.

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