I’m sometimes asked, by people on one of our guided zoo tours or even when I’m out in the community, where the zoo’s animals go in the winter. Usually this is a question from someone that doesn’t visit very often or only thinks of the Assiniboine Park Zoo as a summer facility. In fact, the zoo is open every day of the year, including holidays, and so the animals stay here year-round.
That’s not to say that animals shipments are rare, in fact, they happen all the time. The fall/winter season is often the busiest time for shipments as babies that have grown up at our zoo over the past summer or two are moved out to other facilities. Offspring naturally leave their parents in the wild, sometimes after just hours, others after a couple of years. And since we couldn’t house all of the animals born at the zoo year after year, some of them are moved to other facilities that have the room for them.
Here is an example of some of the animal movements going on this winter. A herd of 12 markhor are going to a zoo in Ontario; Arctic foxes and a lynx are moving to a wonderful facility in the Yukon; a dromedary camel, Bennett’s wallabies and reindeer are moving to Ontario; a few red kangaroos are leaving for Ontario and Texas; crested screamers (large South American birds) are heading to Missouri; and some of our pronghorn are learning French for their trip to a zoo in Quebec.
All animals must go through a month of quarantine, both here at our zoo and again at the zoo they are moving to to insure that they all have a clean bill before moving in with new neighbours. And of course their are piles of travel documents filled out (often by several agencies and facilities) and numerous travel arrangements that must be made. Shipping animals to and from the zoo is a lot of work, often taking months to finalize, but it’s worth it when visitors get to see the animals in their new homes.
There will be more animal shipment news in the months to come. Stay tuned.