She is fluffy, white and executives at the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo, N.Y., hope she will spark a $4 million fundraising drive.
She is a 3-month-old polar cub, nicknamed Luna, who made her debut Friday at the zoo in Western New York. The $4 million is the amount the zoo says it still needs to reach its $18 million goal to build a new polar bear exhibit and entrance to the zoo.
The cub was born at the zoo on November 27 and has been hand raised by the zoo’s veterinary technician, Alice Rohauer, and staff ever since, a zoo spokeswoman confirmed to ABC News. She was given the nickname, Luna, because she was born the night of a full moon, but her official name will come courtesy of the local Buffalo community in a naming contest the zoo plans to kick off soon.
The Buffalo Zoo, along with the Toledo Zoo, is the only zoo in North America to have a polar bear birth in the past year. As a result, the zoo is asking local residents in particular to make a donation to the fundraising campaign they have named, “Our Bears Belong in Buffalo.”
Luna weighed just 1 lb, 8oz at birth and is still too young to go on public display full-time. Panda lovers will have to rely on the zoo’s website and Facebook page for updates about the cub or, at the zoo, watch the panda in her nursery on closed-circuit television on weekday afternoons.
If fundraising for the zoo’s Arctic Edge polar bear exhibit is not completed on time, the zoo says, Luna will have to be temporarily relocated until the exhibit is completed to meet the standards of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.