Former Madison polar bear Nuniq makes public debut in Kansas City

Photo from Kansas City Zoo.

MADISON, Wis. — The male polar bear that recently left the Henry Vilas Zoo is officially making his public debut in Kansas City.

Nuniq has spent the last 30 days in quarantine since leaving Madison. He received a clean bill of health from Kansas City Zoo officials on Wednesday and was introduced to the public on Thursday.

Video of his debut was shared on the Kansas City Zoo’s Facebook page.

Nuniq, who turns 4-years-old this month, joins Berlin, a female polar bear who has lived in Kansas City since 2012. They’ll be introduced to one another over the next few weeks before they can share the KC Zoo Polar Bear Passage.

The polar bear exchange program that facilitated Nuniq’s move is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Polar Bear Species Survival Plan. However, Berlin and Nuniq will not mate since Berlin is 31-years-old and beyond breeding age.

Nuniq was one of the two cubs born at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2016.  He arrived in Madison two years later with strong ties to the city, since his father Nanuq called Henry Vilas Zoo home for two nearly decades.

Nuniq will be replaced by Borealis, or “Bo” for shore, a 2-year-old polar bear coming to Madison from the Toledo Zoo.  He was expected to arrive in Madison in October.

There are only 57 polar bears in zoo in the United States due to the strict animal care standards that must be met.