Tails From The Zoo

Zoos in Our World April 30, 2009

This is a letter from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, in response to concerns from a small group of concerned citizens regarding the necessity of zoos, and is reprinted with permission.


It’s been argued that zoos and aquariums are no longer relevant.

To the contrary, today’s accredited zoos and aquariums are needed more than ever to help Canadians connect with our natural world. We live in a world beset by environmental problems, with animal species disappearing at an alarming rate. Climate change is wreaking havoc with natural systems. On top of all this, our urban lifestyles have divorced Canadians from the realities of the animal world.

Our accredited zoos and aquariums are no longer the archaic pens holding sad animals in prison that have been justly criticized in the past. They conduct active programs of species survival and research and conservation, both at their facilities and in the field. They deliver education programs in their communities. Most of all, they are all required to deliver the best in care for the animals they are responsible for.

Today’s zoos and aquariums are often the only, and the best opportunity for urbanites – particularly youth – to establish a connection with the natural world of animals. Sadly, many of us will never experience the joy and wonder of encountering animals in their natural habitat, but the next best option is to get to know them up close and personal in a modern zoo. If you’ve had the good fortune to spend time in an accredited zoo or aquarium and have seen the sense of awe and wonder on the faces of youngsters meeting a big cat, a polar bear, a sea otter for the first time, you’ll know what this is all about.

Zoos and aquariums are supported by committed volunteers, members and donors and importantly, they’re vital contributors to our economy.

Despite the most committed and professional care by staff, deaths do occur. They happen in the real world, and they happen in zoos and aquariums; that reality cannot stand in the way of carrying out our mission – connecting Canadians to nature.

Bill Peters

National Director, Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums




Happy Frog Day! April 29, 2009

Filed under: Eco-Dates,Year of the Frog — Scott Gray @ 2:38 pm
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I would like to wish everyone, around the world, a Happy Frog Day!

Here at the zoo we like to celebrate frogs everyday but April 29 is a real special day. For more information on Frog Day, please visit: http://savethefrogs.com/day/



New bison births

Filed under: New Animals/Births,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 9:42 am
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The Assiniboine Park Zoo is now home to two new bison calves! Born in the last week, both calves seem strong and healthy and are already on display with their proud mothers. They will be meeting their father, Blizzard, when he arrives back at the zoo in May after spending the winter in Calgary.

New bison calves

Thanks to Darlene Stack for this wonderful picture of Hubert (little male up front) and Bobby (little girl)!


Arctic Fox Shipments April 9, 2009

Filed under: World News,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 6:40 pm
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The last few months have been interesting at the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s animal hospital with all sorts of Arctic fox shipments. The zoo had ten young foxes born in June of 2008, after a gestation of about 52 days. Their exact birthdates are unknown as they are born underground and the babies are not seen for a few weeks. One set of parents had seven kits while the other had three. The new additions made for a wonderful summer of viewing and learning at the fox exhibits.

Arctic fox do not hibernate and can withstand temperatures as low as -50 degress Celsius (perfect animals for a zoo in Winnipeg!). They have a life span of about ten years, with both parents looking after the young. Nine subspecies of Arctic fox live in the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. Arctic fox are pure white in the winter and grey-brown, light brown, gray, chocolate, or even black with a bluish hue in the summer, depending on their range. Arctic foxes are omnivorous, but feed particularly on small mammals (lemmings), eggs, carrion and berries.

Zoo keepers and vet staff had a fox round-up in early November, and after all of the kits were caught up, they were transferred to the zoo hospital. The ten kits were given a physical, vaccinated, and tattooed and micro-chipped at the hospital. This was all done while they were anesthetized as they are wild animals. After a clean bill of health they were ready for their new homes and were set up in pens with both indoor and outdoor access. It was relatively easy to find homes for the youngsters as Arctic fox are not well represented in zoos. Over the winter the foxes were sent to other zoos across the continent and across the ocean. The majority of them went by plane but one went by truck. They went to Tacoma, Washington, St.Paul, and Minnesota in the U.S., to Edmonton, Toronto, Thunder Bay and New Brunswick in Canada and also to Switzerland. There is one fox still waiting for his flight to his new home in France.

Thanks to Jacquie for this update from the zoo hospital!


Polar Bear Express On Facebook April 7, 2009

Filed under: Conservation Programs,Fund Raising,The Zoo and You — Scott Gray @ 5:54 pm
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Join the Polar Bear Express by becoming a fan of our Facebook page.

The Zoological Society has already raised $10,000 Ice Cap for our Polar Bear Conservation Fund and we will be hosting lots of fun events (runs, socials, Halloween programs) that will continue our drive to 25 (ice caps)!

If you would like to be a part of our drive to bring polar bear conservation and education facilities and programs to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, please become a fan of our page: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/pages/Polar-Bear-Express-2009/61846966761?ref=mf