Luna, the Buffalo Zoo’s 1½-year-old polar bear cub, fell about 14 feet into the dry moat of the tiger exhibit early Saturday afternoon, where she has been staying while the zoo undergoes its transformation.
The cub was alert and walking as zookeepers unsuccessfully tried to coax her up the steep steps to the main exhibit yard.
But after Luna failed to heed the sound of the ringing of a bell, typically used to summon her, she was anesthetized with a dart in order to be rescued.
The drama began at about 12:15 p.m.
“She loves to walk along the moat,” said Adair Saviola, the zoo’s director of development and marketing. “She just slipped and lost her footing.”
Caution tape was put around the exhibit as zookeepers tried to get Luna to climb up the steps that lead from the moat, but Luna was reluctant to make the attempt, Saviola said.
At about 3:30 p.m., officials made the decision to employ the anesthesia dart. After the drug took effect, Luna was carried to a veterinary hospital at the zoo to sleep it off and be examined by the zoo vet, Saviola said.
Luna and Kali have been sharing exhibit space with the tigers at the rear of the zoo while the main polar bear exhibit undergoes a $14 million Arctic Edge makeover. The project is on schedule to open in fall 2015, Saviola said.