ANCHORAGE (KTUU) – Wednesday morning, a plane touched down in Anchorage carrying about 670 pounds of precious cargo: the newest addition to the Alaska Zoo, Cranbeary the polar bear.
KTUU reported earlier this month that a female polar bear would be flying up from The Denver Zoo to join Lyutyik, better known as Lou or Louie, the male polar bear at The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage.
Cranbeary will live for the time being in the maternity den of the zoo, before being introduced to Lou. Officials explain Cranbeary will be in a kind of quarantine in order to ensure she isn’t pregnant before the two bears meet.
After that, zoo handlers will introduce the bears through a fence, and barring any bad interactions, they’ll live together in the enclosure.
Cranbeary once lived at the Denver Zoo with Lee, a male polar bear. The two never had offspring despite mating behavior being observed, so when the Denver Zoo needed to construct a new enclosure, the decision was made to send Cranbeary to Alaska.
A Denver Zoo handler, who came to Alaska with Cranbeary, explained that the brown bears there will be living in the old polar bear enclosure while a new one is built, a process that could take up to five years.
Lou also could benefit from a new buddy, after Ahpun, his past companion and den-mate, died unexpectedly from a form of meningitis.
The additional hope, Alaska Zoo director Patrick Lampi said, is for the two bears to mate and produce a cub. In the end, however, he said, “It’s all about what’s best for the bears.”
The public won’t be able to view Cranbeary in person during the three-month quarantine, but at some point a live video feed will be available to view her on the zoo’s website.
In person, Anchorage residents can see Cranbeary when Louie does: when the two are able to live together in the main enclosure.