ST. LOUIS (AP) — Sometimes, shipping an 850-pound beast can be a real bear.
The St. Louis Zoo on Friday announced the arrival of its latest resident, a 2-year-old male polar bear named Kali that was orphaned as a cub. The bear was shipped in by FedEx plane and truck ahead of its scheduled June 6 debut at the zoo’s new Polar Bear Point Exhibit.
The zoo said Kali was resting comfortably and would remain in quarantine for about a month, which is a standard practice that allows an animal to become acclimated to its new digs.
Kali spent the past two years at the Buffalo zoo after he was orphaned in Alaska’s wilderness when a hunter unknowingly killed his mother, unaware she had a cub.
Kali’s latest adventure came Tuesday, when FexEx — having over the years handled everything from endangered sea turtles to seals and pandas — stepped in with air and ground transportation to get a bear halfway across the country.
Kali caught a three-hour flight on a FedEx Express 767 jet from Rochester, New York, to Memphis, Tennessee, secured in a specially designed, half-ton aluminum crate while monitored by a veterinarian and two attendants, the company said in its blog.
The crate was placed behind the cockpit wall, allowing a Buffalo zoo representative and Steve Bircher, the St. Louis Zoo’s curator of mammals and carnivores, to monitor and hydrate him and “basically talk to him,” said Susan Gallagher, the St. Louis zoo’s spokeswoman.
At Memphis, FedEx said, the bear was wheeled to a waiting company truck, its drivers trained in handling sensitive shipments. Attendants who followed in a vehicle frequently checked Kali’s condition, providing water along the way during the five-hour drive in which the bear was in a cargo area kept at 55 degrees.
Kali’s new digs are a 40,000-square-foot habitat offering visitors starting in a month a glimpse of him through a 22-foot window.
“We applaud the work of the Saint Louis Zoo and wish Kali a bright and happy future in his new home,” Neil Gibson, FedEx’s vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement Friday.