Tails From The Zoo

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 Debby the Polar Bear Pin April 22, 2010

Filed under: Member Notices,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 1:36 pm
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The Zoo Gift Shop is now the official retailer of a brand new Debby the Polar Bear™ pin.  The Assiniboine Park Zoo Gift Shop is now a Corporate Member of the Winnipeg Pin Collectors Club. Pins are available at the store for $4.99

Winnipeg Pin Collectors Club: http://www.winnipegpincollectorsclub.com/

Zoo Gift Shop: www.zoosociety.com

Pins are available at the Store for $4.99 each.

Waldo the Grizzly Dies at 36 April 19, 2010

Filed under: Member Notices,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 1:01 pm

Waldo the grizzly bear, who lived at the Assiniboine Park Zoo for many of his 36 years, passed away in his sleep in his hibernating den, late last week. Waldo was a favourite of zoo visitors, along with his sister Hilda, who died three years ago at age 33. They were both orphaned in 1974 near Banff, Alberta, and the cubs were shipped to Winnipeg from the Calgary Zoo later that year.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo has housed grizzlies since 1951, including 12 cubs that were born before Hilda and Waldo arrived.

“Waldo will be missed by the many zoo staff that cared for him over the years, and by the hundreds of thousands of visitors who enjoyed watching him interact with Hilda, and dive into the pool for apples”, said zoo staff in today’s press release

Waldo the grizzly bear

Waldo the grizzly bear - 1974 to 2010



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


Woman arrested for keeping zoo in condo December 14, 2009

Filed under: World News — Scott Gray @ 8:17 pm
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Woman arrested for keeping zoo in condo

Christina Tan – Tue, Dec 08, 2009, The Star/Asia News Network

Bears and leopard cats can be found in the wild or in zoos, but what about in a condominum in the city?

That is what enforcement officers from the Selangor Wildlife Department discovered when they raided a unit in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur last Friday. They arrested a 25-year-old woman who had been keeping a baby honey bear, a leopard cat and a slow loris in individual cages.

And this discovery is just the tip of the iceberg, according to department deputy director Mohammad Khairi Ahmad.

“We believe many out there are keeping wild animals as pets in their homes. It is not the way to love wildlife, as they belong in the wild,” he said.

Khairi said his officers raided the condominium following a tip-off from the public. Initial investigations showed that the animals could have been brought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as pets in the condominium for the past three months, he told a press conference in Shah Alam yesterday.

Khairi said the baby bear could be sold for about RM5,000 (S$2,049), while the cat and the slow loris were worth about RM500 each (S$204).

The woman, a hotel worker, has been released on bail till Dec 29 after giving her statement. She lives in the condominium with a male relative in his 30s. The authorities are looking for him to help in investigations.

Khairi warned the public not to keep or buy wildlife as it was against the law. He also said that usually, to get a baby bear, a hunter had to kill its mother first, which was a cruel act on an animal that was still feeding on mother’s milk. He added that the department would get a court order to send the seized animals to the Malacca Zoo or release them back into the wild.


Funding Announcement for Polar Bears at the Assiniboine Park Zoo December 3, 2009

Premiere Greg Selinger was on hand at the Assiniboine Park Zoo today to announce a huge commitment to polar bear conservation at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Here are a few news articles for more information:

Big Funding for Polar Bear Exhibit, Rescue Shelter

Dec. 03, 2009 at 2:30 pm CDT in News

Posted by Sarah Klein

A big funding announcement was made Thursday for major upgrades to the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s polar bear exhibit.

A $31-million investment will help create the world headquarters of Polar Bears International and a state-of-the-art rescue shelter right here in Winnipeg.

The International Polar Bear Conservation Centre will conduct and co-ordinate polar bear rescue research, conservation and public-education initiatives, Premier Greg Selinger and Hartley Richardson, board chair of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said in a statement.

A new arctic exhibit will feature a polar bear enclosure with underwater and above-ground viewing opportunities to enable visitors to come face to face with up to six bears. Current plans call for the exhibit to also feature caribou, arctic fox, snowy owls and musk oxen, said Selinger.

Winnipeg hasn’t had a polar bear since Debby passed away last November.

Construction is slated to begin in 2011.

Polar bear exhibit, shelter eyed for Winnipeg zoo

Last Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2009 | 12:30 PM CT

CBC News

Debby is seen in her enclosure in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo in December 2006, during celebrations of her 40th birthday. (CBC)

A new polar bear rescue shelter and polar bear exhibit will be the centrepieces of a conservation centre to be constructed at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger announced the plan, as well as a contribution of $31 million, on Thursday.

Construction on the centre, which will include a state-of-the-art polar bear enclosure, will start in 2011, said Hartley Richardson, board chair of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

The enclosure will have underwater and above-ground viewing opportunities to enable visitors to come face to face with up to six bears, he said.

It will be part of a new arctic exhibit that will also feature caribou, arctic fox, snowy owls and musk oxen, said Selinger.

The zoo has been without a polar bear since its long-time resident, Debby, died in 2008 at age 42. The zoo has not been able to get another polar bear because its enclosure no longer met provincial standards.

Polar bear research

The first of its kind in North America, the polar bear centre will conduct and co-ordinate polar bear rescue research, conservation and public education initiatives, said Selinger.

It will also co-ordinate a relocation network that will facilitate the process for permanently placing orphaned or injured animals in qualifying zoos.

“As the home of Churchill, the world’s polar bear capital, there is no better place than Manitoba to host this centre of research and education on the impact climate change is having on our polar bears,” Selinger said.

‘As the home of Churchill, the world’s polar bear capital, there is no better place than Manitoba to host this centre of research and education on the impact climate change is having on our polar bears.’—Premier Greg Selinger

Added Richardson: “Manitoba has been a world leader in the management of polar bears, which have become an international symbol for climate change’s effects on the world. We are very pleased to see this exciting initiative is moving forward.”

Polar Bears International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their Arctic habitat, applauded the province on the plans and leadership involving the animals.

“The Polar Bear Alert program and the Manitoba standards for polar bears in zoos are just two examples of this leadership,” said Robert Buchanan, CEO of Polar Bears International.

“By providing funding for the international polar bear conservation centre, Manitoba will remain on the cutting edge in terms of polar bear research and stewardship.”

Assiniboine Park Conservancy is a non-profit corporation mandated to establish a vision for the park, create a plan to ensure it realizes its visions and govern the implementation of strategies toward the revitalization and transformation of the park.

Polar bears’ early arrival eyed

Province to announce funding; construction could start in 2011

By: Bartley Kives and Bruce Owen

3/12/2009 1:00 AM

The Assiniboine Park Zoo has been without a polar bear since Debby died last year at age 42.

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy may begin building a state-of-the-art polar-bear enclosure in 2011, years earlier than previously expected.

This morning, the Manitoba government plans to announce a contribution toward the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, a $5-million enclosure and education facility slated for Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The largest zoo in Manitoba, the self-proclaimed polar bear capital of the world, has been without a member of the iconic Arctic species since 2008, when 42-year-old zoo resident Debby died. The zoo is unable to acquire another adult polar bear because its existing bear enclosure, built in the 1950s, no longer meets Manitoba Conservation standards for the species.

Young polar bears, however, could be housed at the zoo temporarily as part of a plan to make Winnipeg the centre of international polar-bear education as well as rescue efforts for orphan polar bears found anywhere in the Arctic.

The non-profit Assiniboine Park Conservancy plans to build a polar-bear centre that will include a new enclosure with an underwater viewing area, an interactive link to polar-bear denning grounds near Churchill as well as a polar-ecology and climate-change research facility.

Young polar bears could arrive even before construction begins.

“If a polar bear becomes available, we’ll do our best to ensure it finds a home,” zoo co-ordinator Gordon Glover said in June, when the plan was first announced.

“We will have a facility that will allow them to survive in way that’s decent and respectful for them,” Premier Greg Selinger said Wednesday.

Zoo visitors likely won’t be able to see the orphan cubs, which will be fed and cared for behind closed doors in order to acclimatize them for life in other zoos.

Orphan polar bears are never returned to the wild, where they would die of exposure, starvation or cannibalistic predation.

“We’re not doing this to show people polar-bear cubs, as cute as they are. We’re doing this to keep cubs alive,” Bob Williams, the Canadian chairman for Polar Bears International, also said in June.

Selinger would not say Wednesday how much the province will contribute to the new polar-bear centre. No federal funding is involved, but the conservancy is seeking private donors.

The polar-bear facility is the most dramatic aspect of a $90-million Assiniboine Park Zoo revitalization plan.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 3, 2009


Debby – In Pictures November 15, 2009

Filed under: Zoo Animals — Scott Gray @ 11:53 pm
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Here is a wonderful site to view Debby the polar bear. Thanks to Dennis Fast for sharing these photos on the web.