Buffalo’s 4-month-old polar bear cub is about to get a friend.
Kali, an orphaned male of just about the same age who was found on March 12 near Point Lay, Alaska, is expected to come to Buffalo in a month or so. He is currently receiving care at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.
Relocating Kali is a combined effort of both zoos, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the zoo association’s Polar Bear Species Survival Plan working group.
“We are thrilled to have been chosen to receive Kali,” Donna Fernandes, the Buffalo Zoo’s president, said Friday. “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.”
“Peer-raising animals is generally preferred over human-rearing whenever possible,” said Randi Meyerson, coordinator of the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan, in a statement. “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.”
Both the Buffalo Zoo and the Saint Louis Zoo are building new polar bear exhibits, which are expected to be completed in 2015. There is a possibility Kali will end up in St. Louis.
Fundraising for the Buffalo Zoo’s Arctic Edge, which will include other arctic animals, has taken in more than $500,000 since the public campaign to raise the remaining $4 million began March 1. More than $50,000 has come in small contributions.