Qannik the polar bear with barrel

Qannik Turns 13! (MEDIA RELEASE)

Contact:  Kyle Shepherd
(O) 502-238-5331 (C) 502-744-5639  

Louisville Zoo’s Iconic Polar Bear to Receive a Taylor Swift Era-Themed Birthday Celebration and Poster Giveaway

The Louisville Zoo’s iconic wild-born rescued polar bear Qannik enters her “teens” this month. The Zoo will honor her landmark 13th birthday on January 20 at 11:15 a.m. with enrichment that will be themed for another icon – Taylor Swift!

The public is invited to join the festivities. The first 100 guests at the Glacier Run exhibit will receive a limited edition “Qannik’s Eras Tour” poster to mark the occasion. The poster features 13 ways to start your conservation era and help polar bears in the wild.


Qannik, the polar bear, knows how to “Shake It Off” and, made national headlines when she was rescued in the wild in 2011 on Alaska’s North Slope, separated from her mother and sibling. Qannik was underweight when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) triaged her. At four months of age, she could not survive on her own, having not learned vital skills for swimming and hunting. She has been at the Louisville Zoo’s award-winning Glacier Run exhibit since June 28, 2011.

She’s not just a polar bear; she’s a “Fearless” ambassador for her species and Arctic conservation. While her exact birth date is unknown, officials from USFWS assigned Jan. 10 as her birthday, and each year, the Zoo celebrates on a Saturday in January.


Polar Bears are one of North America’s iconic species. They are listed as vulnerable (and not “Out of the Woods”) on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of NatureRed List of Threatened Species and listed as threatened by USFWS. Current polar bear populations are estimated at 25,000 worldwide. Their numbers are being affected due to pollution and disturbance of their habitat (especially denning sites) by Arctic oil exploration. The main threat and reason for diminishing numbers for polar bears is climate change and the resulting loss of sea ice, which is where they hunt for their main prey: seals. Hunting seasons are shrinking, which means less food for survival.


The Zoo is open daily year-round. Fall/winter hours are 10 a.m. ─ 4 p.m. (stay until 5 p.m.). The Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Visit for more info.


The Louisville Zoo, the State Zoo of Kentucky, is the top, non-profit, paid attraction in the state. The Zoo is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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Qannik the polar bear with barrel

Qannik’s Birthday Bash

January 20, 2024
11:15 am – 11:45 am

Free with Zoo admission or membership! Join us for some cool birthday fun on Saturday, January 20 as we celebrate the 13th birthday ERA of Qannik, our rescued female polar bear. Watch everyone's favorite "IT girl" get special birthday enrichment … Find Out More