Tails From The Zoo

Winnipeg Lions Roar at National Awards Ceremony October 25, 2010

Assiniboine Park Zoo Wins Prestigious Award

Winnipeg, October 26, 2010 – The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums recently announced that the Assiniboine Park Zoo‟s new „Pavilion of the Lions‟ exhibit has won its top national award – the Baines Award for outstanding achievement.

Voted as the best new animal exhibit in Canada this year, it is an innovative exploration of the Lion‟s evolution, ecology, conservation, as well as prehistoric and historic relationships with people.
“We‟re absolutely thrilled to have this exhibit recognized in such a special way,” says Bob Wrigley, Curator for the Assiniboine Park Zoo. “Pavilion of the Lions is just one element of a massive redevelopment plan for the Assiniboine Park Zoo so we‟re proud to say this is the first of many stellar improvements in the works.”
The exhibit was described at the awards ceremony in Montreal as combining the best in animal care with a design that maximizes the visitor experience. Indoors and outdoors, visitors can safely go nose-to-nose with “the King of Beasts,” separated only by glass.
Exciting educational programs are also underway, such as “ZoosnooZ – Snore and Roar” – a sleep-over with the Lions.
Further information regarding the exhibit and award can be found at http://www.assiniboinepark.ca and http://www.caza.ca/en/news.


Mayor Officially Welcomes Zoo’s Lions June 15, 2010

Thanks to ChrisD.ca for the following video from today’s press conference:



From the City of Winnipeg’s Press Desk:

The Mane Attraction: Zoo visitors will be excited to hear that lions are now back on display at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

While the Zoo has displayed a number of lions over its long history, a decision was reached in 1981 to discontinue with this species due to inadequate winter facilities. Continuing public enquiries about lions prompted Zoo officials to bring in a family of lions on a temporary basis in 2005, and visitors were enthralled by the King of Beasts. Consequently, the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Zoological Society of Manitoba began planning a major renovation of the former Giant Panda building to permanently house a pair of lions.

The Zoological Society contributed $350,000 to help upgrade the facility, and to create a new interpretive hall and displays, which could also serve as an attractive space for educational activities and meetings. The displays focus on the lion’s natural history, family life, current status, how human cultures have viewed the lion over the millennia, and the ancestry of big cats and Sabretooths around the world.

The young lions have now arrived from a zoo in Ontario, and are undergoing a period of introduction. The 4-year old female is named Kaya and the 3-year-old male is Xerxes, who has not yet developed his full mane. This beautiful Pavilion of the lions gives visitors an idea of the exciting developments being planned at the Zoo and other locations at the Assiniboine Park.

Additional background:

  • Although the lion evolved in Africa 3.5 million years ago, it diversified into various races as it spread over temporary land bridges into Eurasia, North America and South America.
  • This species had the largest-known distribution of any large mammal and was common throughout the Americas (including Manitoba) until it died out here 10,000 years ago.
  • The American lion (Panthera leo atrox) was the largest cat that ever walked the earth – at least a third larger (up to 380 kg; 838 lbs) than today’s African lion.
  • Originally numbering in the millions over its vast world range, the lion has been persecuted for thousands of years, and currently fewer than 18,000 survive in Africa and 300 in India. There is concern that the species may be eliminated from the wild by the end of the century.


Check out Chris D’s sea eagle video too:



Zoo Vision Begins With Bears June 10, 2010

Plans for Phase 1 of the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s new Master Plan have got Manitobans all abuzz about the positive changes coming to Assiniboine Park. Construction plans for the first project were rolled out on Tuesday, June 8 for a new research and education centre called the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

Snow Turning to kick off construction

Polar bear rehabilitation, research and public education will be the focus of the first-of-its-kind, world-class International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

Click here to see the new zoo plans : http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/making-room-for-polar-bears-95937289.html

Visit www.assiniboinepark.ca to learn all about the revisioning of Assiniboine Park.


Follow up with a bit more of the coverage we’ve received:

Winnipeg Sun: http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/winnipeg/2010/06/08/14315936.html

CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/06/08/mb-polar-bear-rescue-centre-winnipeg.html


Zoo’s New Young Lions Impress Visitors June 9, 2010

Filed under: Exhibits,New Animals/Births,Uncategorized,Wild Cats — Scott Gray @ 9:49 pm

The Assiniboine Park Zoo’s new young lion pair are proving to be a real hit with visitors. Combined with an all new interpretive building, the lion pavilion is expected to be a busy place this summer.  Xerxes and Kaya are still getting used to each other but have definitely claimed their new home as a great place to roam.

Our young male explores the trees outside

Male lion

Our young female establishes her space in the inside viewing area

Female lion

Photos by Darlene Stack, Zoo Photographer


Construction To Begin On Zoo’s Old Bear Range June 8, 2010

The Assiniboine Park Zoo and Assiniboine Park Conservancy announced plans today for its new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at a unique “snow-turning” ceremony today. Construction is scheduled to begin next week on a new transition centre for orphaned polar bear cubs. The $4.5-million education and research facility and polar bear “transition centre” in Assiniboine Park Zoo will be a world-wide centre for Arctic conservation. The new building is to be constructed behind the zoo’s existing bear enclosure.

The transition centre will be off limits to the public most of the time but a new state-of-the- art Arctic exhibit, with room for six adult polar bears will open in 2013 for public viewing of bears.  The Province of Manitoba has committed $31 million to the project, including $4.5 million for the conservation centre and more than $26 million for construction of the polar bear arctic exhibit.


For more information on this story, please see the following coverage:

Winnipeg Free Press: Work Set to Begin On Rescue Facility

ChrisD.ca:  Snow Turned on First Phase of Polar Bear Centre


New Nature Playground For Park June 5, 2010

Filed under: Assiniboine Park,Exhibits,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 10:37 pm

Assiniboine Park, at a unique sand-turning, announced further funding and the beginning of construction of a fantastic new nature playground. Along with an expanded duck pond, this free family fun area will be a world class attraction for Manitobans for years to come.

Nature Playground "Sand-Turning"

Read more about yesterday’s exciting news …

Winnipeg Sun: http://www.winnipegsun.com/news/winnipeg/2010/06/04/14266886.html

Steven Fletcher (MP for Charleswood, St James, Assiniboia): http://www.stevenfletcher.com/EN/3519/113550

Assiniboine Park Press Release: http://www.assiniboinepark.ca/newsletter


A Sea Eagle Update May 7, 2010

Filed under: Birds,Exhibits,Teacher's Resources,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 11:33 pm
Tags: ,

Now that the eagles have landed in their new home at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, I thought it would be good to update our Steller’s sea eagle fact sheet. So here you go!


At the Assiniboine Park Zoo:

  • The relocation of our sea eagles places them into the Asian area of the Assiniboine Park Zoo, across the path from our Amur tigers.


  • Our male came to us in 2006 from the Lieberec Zoo in the Czech Republic. He was born in 2005.


  • Our female came to us in 2005 from the Tallinn Zoo in Estonia. She was born in 2003.


Fast Facts:

  • Scientific name means “Eagle of the open seas”
  • The Steller’s sea eagle has been designated a national treasure in Russia. They are also honoured in Japan where they are known as “O-Washi”.
  • Persecuted by hunters and poachers for stealing trapped animals.
  • They are diurnal (active during the day)
  • Adult eagles have about 7000 feathers.
  • They are named after Georg Steller (1709-1746), a German biologist. He also lent his name to the Steller’s jay, Steller’s sea lion (endangered), Steller’s eider (a type of duck – vulnerable), and the Steller’s sea cow (extinct).


Status in the Wild: Vulnerable

  • Wild population estimated at 5000 and dropping according to the IUCN.
  • The wild population is declining due to habitat loss, water pollution (from DDT/PCB’s), over-fishing (loss of prey), lead shot hunting (lead poisoning from scavenging) and other factors.


Sea Eagles:

  • Steller’s sea eagles (Haliaeetus pelagicus) are one of eight species of sea eagle
  • The Steller’s sea eagle is also known as the Pacific eagle and the white-shouldered eagle.
  • The Steller’s sea eagle is considered the most powerful and aggressive of its cousins, the bald eagle and the white-tailed sea eagle
  • This group frequent coasts, lakes and rivers
  • This species is dark brown but dramatically coloured when mature with a white tail, white shoulders, white rump, and white thighs

Stella and Stanley inspect one of their new nest boxes. Photo by Darlene Stack, Assiniboine Park Zoo

Height, Weight, Length:

  • Males: weigh up to 6kg
  • Females: weigh up to 9kg
  • Females average 2 to 4kg larger than males
  • Steller’s sea eagles are amongst the largest and heaviest eagles in the world. They are similar in size to the Philippine eagle and the harpy eagle from South America.

  • Adult Steller’s have an average wingspan of 2.3 metres (7.5 ft)
  • Females have a larger wingspan than males
  • Sea eagles stand 85 to 94cm high


  • Russia: Kamchatka / Amur river, Northern Korea, China and Japan
  • Breeds in Russia and over winters in Japan


  • 4 to 5 years for sexual maturity
  • 6 to 8 years for adult plumage

Sea Eagle Diet:

  • 80% fish (e.g. cod), 10% birds (ducks, gulls), 5% mammals, and 5% other (crabs, shellfish, squid, carrion)
  • Like other eagles, Steller’s also steal food from other birds.
  • Four Steller’s sea eagle hunting techniques have been recorded:

1. Diving off a perch for food

2. Flying over the water and picking up food

3. Wading in shallow water for food

4. Stealing food from other birds, a practice known as “kleptoparasitism”



  • IUCN Redlist, Arkive, Birdlife International, San Diego Zoo, National Geographic Society, Assiniboine Park Zoo Education Library
  • Revised May 3, 2010

Compiled by Scott Gray, Education Director