ASHEBORO, NC - Aquila, one of two polar bears at the North Carolina Zoo, was sent to the Detroit Zoo today while his exhibit undergoes a two-year expansion and renovation beginning in the summer. Wilhelm, the zoo's other polar bear, will remain on exhibit until the construction begins and will then be housed in an off- exhibit area during the renovations.

Born in 1992, Aquila arrived at the N.C. Zoo in 1994 with two other cubs who made up the zoo's original polar bear collection. The three cubs, all siblings, came from the Louisville (KY) Zoo and remained together at the N.C. Zoo until Aquila was sent back to the Louisville Zoo in 2002.
Then, after a short stay at the Cleveland Zoo in 2008, Aquila returned to the N.C. Zoo in 2009. He is one of five different polar bears who have called the N.C. Zoo home.

Wilhelm, the remaining polar bear, was one of two polar bears who arrived at the zoo in November 2002 after being confiscated from a traveling circus in Puerto Rico by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Dept. officials. The circus was found to be in violation of the U.S. Marine Mammals Protection Act, related to the bears substandard care.
Current plans are for Aquila and Wilhelm to return in 2013 to an exhibit that will be almost triple the size of the present exhibit.

The zoo is an agency of the N.C. Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Dee Freeman, Secretary; Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor.