LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's like the movie "The Incredible Journey," but with a modern twist. A 4-month-old polar bear cub traveled across the entire United States - from Alaska to New York - with the help of UPS Worldport and the Louisville Zoo.
Kali is cute, cuddly and has a story that might just break your heart.
Kali's story is reminiscent of one of the most famous orphaned animals of all time, Bambi. Kali was less than 20 pounds when he was found in Alaska after a hunter accidentally shot his mom.
"To the credit of the villagers and Kali, they rescued the cub, notified U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and now it's just a huge success story," said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak.
This week, as Kali began his long journey from Alaska to his new home in New York via Louisville aboard a UPS jet, he was a happy growing cub.
"Kali weighed 66 pounds and is doing great!" Walczak said.
Walczak and his team were brought in thanks to the folks at UPS.
"We knew that if we brought a polar bear cub through Louisville and didn't tell John Walczak and the folks at the zoo, they'd be mad at us," said Mike Mangeot, spokesman for UPS Air.
Both groups have experience in moving baby bears.
Mangeot said it happened, "Just like a standard package would, but this is a little more precious and obviously alive."
Two years ago, one of the Louisville Zoo's most famous residents, polar bear Qannik, who was a cub at the time, made a similar journey.
"It absolutely brought back the memories of that incredible excitement and just being honored of getting Qannik here in Louisville," Walczak said.
Mangeot said Qannik and Kali aren't even the most unusual thing to come through Worldport.
"We ship unusual things on a pretty regular basis, everything from locomotives to race cars to killer whales," Mangeot said. "When see that plane flying in in the evening, all the flights in and out on a given night, you never really know what's going to be in that cargo hold."
Kali made the journey just fine and is now settling in at his new home in Buffalo and the polar bear cub that started out with a story that could break your heart looks like he'll get his happy ending.
"When we can help rescue and recover a threatened species like this, a cub whose got a great life ahead of it," Walczak said. "He's going to be a big boy too, good looking bear."
In Buffalo, Kali will be paired up with another cub around his age.
In Louisville, Qannik hangs out with a slightly older bear. Zoo keepers hope that she and Siku might one day make a connection and have cubs of their own.