Luna, an ambassador for her species, enjoys a snowfall at the Buffalo Zoo. Copyright Buffalo Zoo.

6/3/2013 7:49:25 PM

Orphaned Cub Finds a Friend

Little Kali, the orphaned polar bear cub rescued in Alaska after his mother was shot and killed by a hunter, has settled into his new home at the Buffalo Zoo. And, as keepers were hoping, he's already made fast friends with Luna, a six-month-old cub who was hand-raised by Buffalo Zoo keepers after her mother was unable to care for her.

The two are playing together, chasing each other, and generally behaving as polar bear cubs do.

Kali's story began in March when a subsistence hunter near Point Lay, Alaska, shot a polar bear. Once he discovered that the bear was, in fact, a nursing female, he followed the mother's tracks to her den and rescued her cub, taking it back to his village by snowmobile. He named her Kali (pronounced "Cully") after the Inupiat name for his Point Lay.

Knowing that orphaned polar bears cubs die in the wild without a mother to care for them, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) decided to place Kali in a temporary home at the Alaska Zoo before making arrangements to move him to the Buffalo Zoo on May 15th. The Service chose the Buffalo Zoo because it's one of the few zoos with a cub Kali's age.

The zoo staff introduced the two cubs slowly, letting them see each other from a distance before letting them meet face to face. The introduction went so well that the cubs made their public debut today. This charming video from NBC News shows the two cubs getting to know each other.

But both the Buffalo Zoo and the Alaska Zoo are part of our Arctic Ambassador Center network, comprised of more than 40 leading zoos, museums, science centers aquariums that are taking leadership in their communities to reduce CO2.

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