BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Buffalo Zoo is breaking ground on a new $14 million "Arctic Edge" exhibit that will be home to the polar bears and other animals.
The 35,000 square foot habitat will feature the zoo's popular polar bears, Luna and Kali, along with bald eagles, lynx, and arctic wolves. There will also be a conservation building to teach the history of the arctic and how to preserve it.
It is expected to be complete in May 2015, but the polar bears won't be introduced to their new home until September 2015 to allow time for vegetation to grow.
"Arctic Edge" will be constructed of natural materials and have several green features, such as skylights and an eco-friendly heating and cooling system.
The zoo was at risk of losing its bears because of a small, outdated habitat. The new exhibit will feature two large, saltwater pools that meet standards set forth by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Visitors will be able to catch a unique glimpse of the polar bears at underwater viewing stations.
The new space will allow plenty of room for cubs and adult bears. Zoo officials hope to bring Luna's mother, Anana, back to Buffalo. They also want to bring in a breeding male.
Sixty percent of the funding for the project came from private donations. The Buffalo Zoo launched an $18 million dollar capital campaign in 2010 to raise money for both the exhibit and a new entrance.
Luna was born in November 2012 and became the face of the campaign. She was joined by Kali, who is owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. He is scheduled to move to a zoo in St. Louis, where a new exhibit is also under construction.