BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Just a couple of days ago the Buffalo Zoo received the good news that the state would be covering the remainder of the funding for the polar bear exhibit. Tuesday, they received more good news about Kali’s future.
When the Buffalo Zoo received Kali in the spring, they knew it was for a limited time. Kali was only supposed to stay until September, but a polar bear expert suggested that he stay longer because the few months socializing with Luna was not long enough.
So the zoo wrote a letter to Fish and Wild Life Services, who own Kali, asking to keep him longer on the condition they would provide a larger pool in the habitat. They agreed with that request, but at the end of October, the zoo’s USDA inspector came to check the conditions of the habitat.
“[The inspector] indicated that there seemed to be other zoos that wanted to take Kali before his ultimate move to St. Louis in 2015 and we said, ‘Why are we doing this? Why would we subject him to another move?’” said Donna Fernandes, CEO of the Buffalo Zoo.
That is when the zoo called Senator Charles Schumer and spurred him to take action. He made a call to Daniel Ashe, the director of Fish and Wild Life Services.
“So I made the arguments to the director that Kali should stay for three reasons. First, very important to the zoo. This is a great exhibit. Kali had already developed popularity. Second, it was important to Buffalo. It was a great economic engine. We have people coming from Canada and other places to see Kali and Luna. But third, and most important, is that it was in the bear’s interest to stay,” Senator Schumer said.
When Kali first lost his mother he was not adjusting well to zoo life. But after spending time with Luna, he has improved, and there is concern he could regress if they were separated too soon.
After hearing his plea, Fish and Wild Life Services sent a letter to Senator Schumer saying Kali would be staying in Buffalo until at least the spring of 2015.
So far, the plan remains to keep Kali at the Buffalo Zoo until the zoo in St. Louis has their new exhibit ready for him. But some hope to convince Fish and Wild Life Services to keep him in Buffalo permanently in hopes Kali will mate with Luna.