Henry Vilas Zoo Polar Bear Nanuq Moving
February 13, 2009
The Henry Vilas Zoo’s male polar bear, Nanuq, will be moved to the Buffalo Zoological Gardens, Buffalo, New York, in order to mate with a female polar bear housed at that zoo. The move has been requested by the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), administered by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) as part of the captive breeding program for this endangered species.
Nanuq and his twin, Norton, born in 1987, were orphaned near Wales, Alaska and rescued by the United States Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Oscar Meyer Company donated the use of an aircraft to bring the cubs to Henry Vilas Zoo in 1988.
County Executive Kathleen Falk said: “Nanuq is a great Zoo favorite who inspires visitors to learn about and appreciate polar bears. Zoo personnel will take every step to ensure that Nanuq has a safe journey. We wish him and his new mate success in producing lots of healthy cubs.”
Nanuq will be transported to Buffalo sometime near the end of February. On the day the move occurs, the Zoo will be closed in order to reduce distraction and create maximum space for the equipment needed in the move.
Zoo veterinarian Dr. Mike Petersen has assembled a team of specialists including board certified anesthesiologists, cardiologists, and zoological medicine specialists from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and other institutions to help safely move Nanuq.
Mishka, the Zoo’s other polar bear, will stay at the Henry Vilas Zoo.
Zoo Director Jim Hubing remarked that the transfer of Nanuq is a good example of AZA Accredited Zoos working together to help conserve endangered species.
About eighty-four polar bears are exhibited by thirty-four AZA accredited zoos; Polar Bear SSP breeding recommendations are made to ensure a sustainable and healthy captive population.
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Jim Hubing, 266-4708 or Topf Wells, 266-9069