Rescued Polar Bear Cub Heads To New York’s Buffalo Zoo

Kali, the orphaned polar bear cub from the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, arrived at the Buffalo, NY airport early Wednesday on a UPS flight.

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In time, Kali will be introduced to the Buffalo Zoo‘s polar bear cub, Luna, a visitor favorite. The Buffalo Zoo is in the final stages of fundraising for a new $18 million polar bear exhibit.

Photo courtesy of the Alaska Zoo.
Photo courtesy of the Alaska Zoo.

A day earlier, Kali spent Tuesday afternoon waiting patiently in his carrier before boarding a UPS cargo jet bound for the East Coast and his new home at the Buffalo Zoo.

Alaska Zoo‘s executive director Pat Lampi says, although Kali will be missed, the cub will have an opportunity in Buffalo that the Anchorage Zoo can’t match

“We’re always sorry to see the little cubs go, but we know it’s going to a good place and the fact that he is going to have a companion to spend time with is great, because as you know cubs live with their mother and siblings for two to three years, so it is good for them to have that companionship,” Lampi said.

The 60-pound cub is about 5 months old. He seemed relaxed in his carrier, while showing interest in all the media attention. Lampi says it is not difficult to find a zoo that wants a young polar bear.

“You know, U.S. Fish and Wildlife makes that determination. And they use the assistance of the American Zoological Association, because they know who’s got what bears, who’s building what exhibits, which bears they already have, what might be a good companion for any orphan coming in,” Lampi said.

Shannon Jenson, Alaska Zoo curator, says she’s not worried about Kali’s future home.

“He’s full of personality and he really hams it up for the crowds and he really seems to like all the attention. Oh, I know he’ll do fine. He’ll do great. They have a great staff over there and they have another little cub, so that should be fine,” Jenson said.

Pat Lampi travelled along with Kali on the UPS flight to Louisville, Kentucky, for a plane change to Buffalo.

Lampi says it is important that the cub will be an “ambassador” for his species and help remind people of the importance of conservation.