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County Executive's Office

Henry Vilas Zoo Celebrates Debut of New Polar Bear

September 21, 2018
Ronda Schwetz 608-266-4708
County Executive

MADISON, Wis., September 21, 2018 – Henry Vilas Zoo needs your help to welcome its

newest family member. The zoo announced today the arrival of a new male polar bear, Nuniq,

who will join Berit in her Arctic Passage home The arrival of Nuniq is particularly special, as

many guests may remember his father, Nanuq, who lived at the Henry Vilas Zoo for two



“We’re excited to welcome Nuniq to the Henry Vilas Zoo,” said Dane County Executive Joe

Parisi. “Being entrusted to care for Nuniq is a testament to our zoo’s long history of protecting

polar bears.”


Nuniq has arrived safely to his new home in Madison, but, as one of only eight admission-free

zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the Henry Vilas Zoological

Society is asking for donations to meet the $30,000 goal to cover transportation and care costs

for our newest resident. Supporters can donate online, via mail or phone. “As a no-charge zoo,

the community’s support is critical to help us cover the costs necessary to bring Nuniq home to

Madison to honor his father and help the next generation of Madisonians enjoy his family’s

legacy” said Alison Prange, Zoological Society President.


Nuniq moves to Henry Vilas Zoo from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Powell, Ohio, based

on a recommendation from the AZA’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for 22-month-old Nuniq, his

twin sister Neva, and his half sister Amelia Gray, who were born at the Columbus Zoo and

raised by their mothers. All three bears are weaned, and 650 pound Nuniq now outweighs his

mother, Aurora.


Moving Nuniq to the Henry Vilas Zoo and the two young female bears to the

Maryland Zoo in Baltimore from the Columbus Zoo allows the opportunity for each of the zoos

involved to potentially have bear cubs in the future, helping to protect this threatened species.


“We are thrilled to have Nuniq join Berit and be part of the legacy of his father Nanuq,” said

Executive Zoo Director, Ronda Schwetz. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Polar

Bear SSP and other AZA-accredited institutions to ensure polar bears are around for

generations to come.”


Visitors will soon be able to see Nuniq and Berit in Henry Vilas Zoo’s Arctic Passage Exhibit. Be

sure to follow the Henry Vilas Zoo on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of when

Nuniq will make his debut to the public.