Born an Alaskan
The polar bear Kali (pronounced "Cully”) was born in the winter of 2013 on the Northwest Alaska coast. The 5-year-old bear, who now weighs more than 1,000 pounds, was rescued by an Alaska Native hunter from Point Lay, Alaska in March 2013 after he harvested his mother not realizing she was a female. Alaska Native people are the only people in the US allowed by federal law to hunt polar bears and other marine mammals for subsistence.
The hunter handed the cub over to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists at the North Slope Borough. Villagers cared for the small bear until he made his first of many trips, and local students named him after their village - “Kali” is the Inupiaq name for Point Lay.
Temporarily a New Yorker
Kali soon moved 725 miles south to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage for temporary care. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on March 22, 2013, announced that the Service was considering the Saint Louis Zoo as the possible final destination for Kali. In the meantime, the then-65-pound bear moved to Buffalo Zoo in May 2013 as a companion to a female cub (“Luna”) who was born at Buffalo Zoo in early 2013.
Forever a St. Louisan
In April 2015, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced the selection of Saint Louis Zoo’s new state-of-the-art polar bear habitat— McDonnell Polar Bear Point as the bear’s permanent home, working with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSPs cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species populations in the care of conservation organizations.
Kali came to St. Louis on May 5, 2015. Kali's transportation from Rochester, New York, to St. Louis was generously donated by FedEx. Kali has been living comfortably in his new habitat, where a quarantine period allowed him to acclimate to his new home and diet. He will meet his adoring St. Louis fans when McDonnell Polar Bear Point opens to the public on June 6, 2015.