Luka, the Phoenix Zoo’s Andean bear, you remember – the one who we happily discovered is a girl – is headed to the Nashville Zoo. Luka will be leaving the Valley of the Sun and headed to Music City. Luka will be welcomed into a new habitat, opening spring of 2016, called “Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear.” She will eventually share this exhibit with not only other Andean bears, but a troop of coatimundi. The area will also include displays for viscacha, pudu, sloths, guinea pigs, marmosets and fresh water rays.

Andean bears are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and their population is declining. All births are critically important for this species as they are so rare in zoos, and having another young female is beneficial to the entire breeding program and survival of the species.

We will miss Luka here in Phoenix but wish her well in her new home, and know she will continue to be a wonderful ambassador for her species. Enjoy the photos and videos below as we celebrate Luka’s journey from the time she was born through her becoming a wonderfully strong and independent adult Andean bear.

The Phoenix Zoo is still home to two adult Andean bears, Rio and Rizarro, who are on exhibit in the Zoo’s Forest of Uco.