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Louisville Zoo celebrates polar bear, elephant birthdays

Qannik will turn 12 years old and Punch will be 53 years old.
Credit: Louisville Zoo

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville Zoo is starting the New Year with parties for two of Louisville’s most beloved and iconic animals, and you're invited!

The Zoo is inviting guests to come to Louisville Zoo to celebrate Asian elephant Punch’s 53rd birthday in the Africa Zone. 

The festivities kick off on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 1:30 p.m. 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, according to a Zoo press release.


Asian elephant Punch arrived at the Louisville Zoo in 1973. She was approximately 3 years old when she made the trip from Southwicks Zoo in Massachusetts.

According to the Zoo, Punch was wild-born, so her exact birth date is estimated. The Zoo says she spends her days playing with her boomer ball and eating squash.

Qannik (pronounced “Cunnick”) made national headlines when she was found on Alaska’s North Slope in 2011, separated from her mother and sibling. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rescued her after several days of monitoring her in hopes that she would reunite with the other bears.

According to the Zoo, Qannik was underweight and likely hadn’t learned vital skills to survive on her own. 

She has been at the Louisville Zoo’s Glacier Run exhibit since the year she was rescued.

Because Qannik was born in the wild, her exact birthdate is also unknown. Officials from the USFWS assigned Jan. 10 as her birthday. 

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