Glacier Run exhibit has been under construction for several years (at least it seems that long to me), and it was well worth the wait. Before, there was simply a large pool for the few polar bears, and they seldom seemed to be out when we were there.
I was surprised to find two grizzly bears when we walked into the surrogate Alaskan village of Glacier Run! They chased each other around, jumping into the water, and vigorously shaking the water off again! The Zoo website identifies them as Otis and Rita, one year old cubs. Their mother Inga lives at the Zoo as well, but she chilled out in her room during our visit.
The Louisville Zoo works hard to keep their new residents engaged. We watched the keepers hiding food around the exhibit for 26 year old Arki to find. They have an excellent sense of smell, so she had no problem finding the food. Sometimes they give her a paper bag with just the scent in it. She stands in one spot just moving her nose around, sniffing, then walks off to find...
...a nice fish, or maybe her favorite un-natural snack - a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! Her tongue and all skin are black to help retain heat. Her fur is hollow and tends to reflect whatever color is nearby, so they don't always look white.
Qannik was born in January 2011 and rescued on Alaska’s North Slope in April. She took up temporary residence at the Alaska Zoo before moving to her permanent home in Louisville in June. She enjoys a constantly changing set of toys and enrichment items in Bear Alley. It doesn’t take her long to figure them out, push them around and make a wild playground of barrels, tubs, balls, igloo, tubes and hay. The windows to Bear Alley were originally completely covered and are still being slowly unveiled to allow for Qannik’s ongoing acclimation to Bear Alley and the full wall of glass windows. This same strategy was used very effectively with the grizzly bear family, Inga, Otis and Rita.
We can't miss the elephant barn on any Zoo trip, since Mary Beth worked there and knows both Punch and Mikki up close and personally! In fact, Mikki gave Mary Beth her ring when Brian proposed.
Remember that song from Oklahoma! about the corn being as high as an elephant's eye? That's what I hummed as I looked at Mikki's incredibly long eye lashes. But no amount of skin softener would smooth our her wrinkles though.
As we stood by them chatting with the elephant keepers, Mikki moved her trunk around, trying to sniff out a treat from one of the humans. I was amazed at the size and flexibility of her trunk.
Statues of the various animals are strategically placed for good photo ops, and we took advantage of this baby elephant for Kittrick's first photo at the zoo!