Zoo Celebrates Birthdays of Polar Bear Qannik & Elephant Punch (Media Release)

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

The Louisville Zoo is kicking off 2023 with the celebration of two of Louisville’s most beloved and iconic animals.  On Saturday, Jan. 7, at 1:30 p.m., the Zoo invites guests to celebrate Asian elephant Punch’s 53rd birthday in the Africa Zone. Afterward, guests can head down to Glacier Run for polar bear Qannik’s 12th birthday at 2:15 p.m.

Zoo guests will be invited to sing “Happy Birthday” and each animal will receive special celebratory enrichment items and treats.

ABOUT PUNCH: Asian elephant Punch arrived at the Louisville Zoo on November 28, 1973 at approximately 3 years old from Southwicks Zoo, MA. Punch was wild born so her exact birth date is estimated. She enjoys playing with her boomer ball and eating squash.

ABOUT QANNIK: Qannik (pronounced “Cunnick”) made national headlines when she was found on Alaska’s North Slope in 2011 separated from her mother and sibling. After several days of monitoring her in hopes that she would reunite with the other bears, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began a rescue operation. Qannik was under weight and likely hadn’t learned vital skills to survive on her own. She has been at the Louisville Zoo’s award-winning Glacier Run exhibit since June 28, 2011. Because Qannik was born in the wild, her exact birthdate is unknown. Officials from the USFWS assigned January 10 as her birthday. Qannik is on habitat rotation with four other bears at Glacier Run: female grizzly bear, Inga; her offspring, Otis and Rita; and Lee, a male polar bear.


For those superfans who want to show additional support for their Louisville Zoo and special animal ambassadors like Qannik, limited-edition shirts with a modern bear design are now on sale. Unisex, female, and children’s shirts and sweatshirts will be available for purchase through Jan. 23 at 11:59 p.m. at louisvillezoo.org/shirt. All proceeds will go to support the needs and care of the Zoo’s 1,100+ animals.


Once again, the Zoo is teaming up with Kroger and Dare to Care for Kroger Wild Winter Days to help struggling families in our community. Guests who bring at least one canned food item per person may purchase discounted tickets at the Zoo windows for $9.75 per adult and $6.75 per child/senior ticket.

Since this partnership began in 2009, the Zoo has collected nearly 27,000 pounds of food thanks to the generosity of our guests. That’s equivalent to the weight of three elephants like Mikki or Punch!

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.

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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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