Tails From The Zoo

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


Solar Powered Trash Compactor at the Zoo April 26, 2010

The Zoological Society of Manitoba recently unveiled a new solar-powered trash compactor at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The bin is adjacent to the Animal Tracks Cafe and will hold five times a much garbage as traditional garbage cans. This helps us to reduce the number of vehicle trips associated with frequent trash collection as well as reduce litter from overflow and reduce issues with wasps in the summer because the new bin is covered.

“In keeping with our commitment to conservation efforts, we are very please to accept Waste Managment’s donation of a solar power compator”, said Tricialynn Zacharias in last week’s press release. “It means a better environment for our zoo animals, staff and visitors.”

Watch a video of the bin’s use here: http://www.thinkgreen.com/bbsmall

Indeed, Waste Management’s generosity to donate the bin, and a companion recycling bin, is significant as the unit normally retails for $3,700.


The Zoological Society and Assiniboine Park Zoo are greening things in a number of other ways.

Zoo Gift Shop:

  • Using OXO biodegradable bags in our Zoo Gift Shop
  • Selling “Poo Poo Paper”  products, 100% organic cotton tshirts, purses made of bamboo and coconut and bamboo xylophones.


  • Compost bins are used to turn zoo classroom and zoo restaurant food scraps into soil.
  • Large scale composting of organic materials like plant material, hay and bedding, and animal manure saves hundreds of tons of rubbish from entering landfills.


  • We actively solicit public donations of used items like fridges, ladders, bicycles, towels, and animal equipment for reuse throughout the zoo to reduce cost and cut back on consumerism.
  • Branches and small trees are chipped and the wood chips then used for enclosures and pathways.

Reducing Our Consumption and Our Impact:

  • Both our Gift Shop and Café use Bio-Life cleaning products that are plant based (renewable), biodegradable and phosphate-free.
  • These greener cleaners are being phased-in zoo-wide as is the use of compact fluorescent bulbs and other energy saving devices.
  • Timers and sensors are installed in offices, buildings and exhibits so that lights are not left on.
  • We accept donations of fruit, veggies  and other foodstuffs, material and other pertinent items from companies to assist with costs and so the items  don’t end up in the landfill.
  • Newsletters, renewal and registration forms are emailed instead of sent by regular post whenever possible.
  • If brochures, newsletters or marketing materials are produced, they are printed on 100% post-consumer paper with vegetable based inks.
  • We use electric golf carts and tour trolleys and staff get around the zoo on bikes.
  • We support and participate in anti-litter campaigns.


These are just some of the ways we are trying to make a difference. We have plans for more solar panel use in buildings, as well as geo-thermal for the zoo.


Visitors Are Always Welcome March 23, 2010

Filed under: Fund Raising,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 3:20 pm

We love to have visitors at the zoo, and even better when they come bearing gifts. And when those gifts are for the bears!?

I was lucky enough today to get a visit from the “senior representatives” of the hardest working polar-inspired family in Manitoba. The Vickery family presented me with a cheque for $350 for the Polar Bear Conservation Fund in Tribute to Debby. (They brought a whole load of pennies for us too!)

The Vickery’s are also known as the Canuck Nanooks, which include but are not limited to Miranda, Rebekah and Rachael. They have been making a difference for polar bears in the wild and here at our zoo for awhile now.

Canuck Nanooks

The Canuck Nanooks and I, at Debby the polar bear's memorial

The Nanooks don’t believe in lip-service when it comes to care for the earth. They want the natural world to change for the better, and the Nanooks know that this requires hard work, dedication and a little ingenuity. They are succeeding and we are proud to be albe to share in that success.


If you would like to donate to our Polar Bear Conservation Fund, please visit zoosociety.com


Flamingos for Valentine’s Day February 14, 2010

Filed under: Birds,Fund Raising,Zoo Animals,Zoo Knew — Scott Gray @ 8:17 am
Tags: ,

Chris Reid and I discussed flamingos on this morning’s Zoo Knew segment (heard every Sunday at 7:15 am) on the Weekend Wake-up Show on CJOB 68. Chris’s theme today was Valentine’s Day and what better animal for  February 14th than flamingos!? The zoo is open year round and visiting the flamingos, even in the winter, is a great way to spend an afternoon. You might even be lucky enough to watch the flamingos dance for you! The whole flock gets involved and they use the whole “dancing floor” to strut their stuff, show off their colourful feathers and create quite the noisy ruckus.  If you would like to visit the Assiniboine Park Zoo today to see the flamingos, the zoo is open from 10 am to 4 pm.

For more information on this month’s special Zoodoption Animal of the Month, the flamingo, please visit www.zoosociety.com

  • A special animal is available to be zoodopted every month for the special rate of $25.00. You can Zoodopt any animal of your choice at any level during the year, but if you choose our “Animal of the Month” you will receive the same package as the Friend level for the special price of $25.00.


Information on Flamingos

  • Long legs, a long, curved neck, a gooselike voice, and down-curved bills adapted for filter feeding, are characteristics of all flamingo species.
  • The joint in their leg about halfway up that looks like a backward knee is actually an ankle. And, like all birds, they walk on their toes.


  • Brackish inland lakes, coastal shores, mudflats, saltpans, saline lagoons


  • Algae, small crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic insects in the wild
  • Poultry pellets, dried shrimp, meat and bone meal at the zoo
  • Here at the zoo we include synthetic canthaxanthin (a carotenoid pigment) to the flamingos diet to avoid their feathers losing the beautiful colouring. A similar pigment is found naturally in the crustaceans that they eat in the wild.
  • The angled beak of the flamingo has a sieve‑like structure for capturing small aquatic organisms. They will stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom. They then tip their heads upside down, flutter their bills and strain water through their bill, catching food in their lamellae.


Fast Facts:

  • The word flamingo is originally derived from the Portuguese for ‘red goose’
  • Flamingos are an ancient group of birds. Their fossil records date back about 10 million years ago.
  • Both male and female, provide their young with a type of milk called crop milk.
  • Flamingos have different leg coloring from species to species.
  • Flamingos are naturally born white.

  • Most flamingo populations require a large colony for successful breeding. This poses difficulties for breeding flamingos in zoos. Small groups have been tricked into displaying breeding activity by using mirrors (making it look like the group is larger than it really is).
  • There are six species, four native to the Americas and two living in parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. Some authorities recognize five species and consider the Caribbean and greater flamingos to be sub-species.


Caribbean Flamingo: (Phoenicopterus ruber)

  • We have approximately 30 Caribbean flamingos, housed in two flocks at the zoo.
  • The Caribbean flamingo is also known as the American or roseate flamingo.

Size: Approximately 80 – 145 cm (31 –57 in.) long

  • Females tend to be smaller than males

Weight: Approximately 1.9 – 3 kg (4.2-6.6 lbs)

Range: South America and the Caribbean with a small population in the Galapagos

Status: Not threatened

  • Population decline due to pollution, loss of habitat and hunting.
  • Total population is estimated 80,000 – 90,000 birds.


Greater Flamingo: (Phoenicopterus roseus)

  • The Assiniboine Park Zoo acquired a dozen greater flamingos in the winter of 2007.
  • The greater flamingo is lighter in colour then the Caribbean and is the most widespread of all flamingo species.

Size: 91 to 127 cm (36 to 50 in)

  • Wingspan is 140-165 cm

Weight: Average 8.75 lbs (4 kg)

Range and Status:

  • Southern Africa: 55,000 (decreasing). West Africa: 30,000-60,000 (trend unknown). Eastern Africa: 35,000 (decreasing). West Mediterranean: 80,000 (increasing). East Mediterranean and Asia: 500,000 (stable)



  • World Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  • BirdLife International
  • Sea World Infobooks
  • Assiniboine Park Zoo Education Archives

Compiled by Scott Gray and Jenna Harrison, Zoological Society of Manitoba

Revised February 13, 2010


Polar Run February 4, 2010

Filed under: Fund Raising,Member Notices,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 11:02 am
Tags: ,

The Zoological Society of Manitoba is looking for runners and walkers to participate in its annual Polar Run, which will be held this year on Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 8:30 am. All proceeds going towards the Polar Bear Conservation Fund in Tribute to Debby.

You can run, sprint, jog, walk, lop, hip-pity-hop, amble, bound, break, canter, dart, dash, gallop, lope, pace, race, rush, scamper, scuttle, spring, sprint, trot or even whisk your way along the paths of the Assiniboine Park Zoo. You will be supporting polar bear conservation and education programs at the zoo and supporting a healthy lifestyle.

You can choose from the 3K, 5K and 10K runs.

Early bird registration (until March 1st) is only $20. Regular registration is $25. The registration fee for children under the age of 13 is only $10, anytime.

Please visit www.zoosociety.com or the Running Room for more information.

Race Kit Pickup:

Wednesday, March 17th
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Kenaston Running Room
Kenaston Village Mall
1875 Grant Avenue Winnipeg, MB

Extra Information Added February 8, 2010:

The Zoological Society of Manitoba is now looking for volunteers for our 2nd Annual Polar Run on March 21st, 2010.

The run takes place at the Assiniboine Park Zoo at 8:30 am and volunteers are requested to arrive between 7:45 am and 8:00 am for a brief orientation before the race.

We need volunteers to help with on-site registration, refreshments and be race marshals.  If you would like more information please contact Tricialynn at 982 0669 or email tzacharias@zoosociety.com

Jim and Lynda Daun

(aka Flotsom and Jetsom)


Pet Valu Helps the Zoo January 22, 2010

Filed under: Exhibits,Fund Raising,Uncategorized,Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 9:44 am

On December 21, 2009 the Assiniboine Park Zoo Animal Enrichment Committee received a wonderful Christmas present from the staff of the Pet Valu Better Nutrition stores.  The six Pet Valu stores, located at 963 Henderson Hwy., 1670 Main St., 1600 Ness, 3326 Portage Ave., 200 Meadowood and 27 Marion St. banded together to raise money to assist the animals at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.  Pet Valu staff held Halloween Pet photos and Pet photos with Santa and generously donated the proceeds to the Zoo’s Animal Enrichment Committee.  Close to $1,900 was raised and the staff and animals at the Zoo were thrilled to receive this generous donation.

The Zoo’s Animal Enrichment Committee is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of our animals by giving them new experiences to benefit their physical and behavioural health.  Enrichment can also be used as a tool to assist in animal management and to enhance visitors experiences while at the Zoo.

Behavioural enrichment involves variation of the animal’s daily routines using items that require the animal to search for their food, adding new scents in their enclosure, introducing toys to play with, water misters for hot days and items to help alleviate stress.   Enrichment comes in many forms from simple recyclable items such as cartons, sheets and towels to larger items such as fire hoses, lumber, PVC pipe and used street sweeper brushes for the Camels and other hoofed stock to rub against.   Natural substances to enrich enclosures include items such as wood chips, burlap, soil, limestone blocks, logs and food items such as pumpkins, spices and exotic fruit.

Pet Valu and Zoo Staff

The donation from the Pet Valu stores will go toward purchasing balls, toys, play tubes, enclosure enhancements, specialty foods and other items for our fish, birds, reptiles, small animals and monkeys.