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
Tags: ,

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.

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.



Debby the Polar Bear Continues to Inspire October 12, 2009

A new memorial statue was recently unveiled at the Assiniboine Park Zoo to honour Debby the polar bear. Debby passed away in November of 2008 at the age of 42 and was the icon of the zoo. She was in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living polar bear at the time of her passing.

A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes since Debby’s death in order to pave the way for not only new polar bears at the Assiniboine Park Zoo but for a new, state -of-the art polar bear enclosure. The Zoo, Zoological Society of Manitoba, Manitoba Conservation, Polar Bears International, Assiniboine Park Conservancy and many other partner organizations have rallied around this call for action and plan to make Winnipeg the premier place to view, learn about and help conserve polar bears in the world.

The Zoological Society of Manitoba got things rolling by establishing the Polar Bear Conservation Fund in Tribute to Debby. This fund has received many donations from individual citizens and companies from Manitoba as well as being the main recipient for fund generated by the Zoo Society throughout 2009. The Society has contributed money from two fun runs, from its June social event and proceeds from the Safeway Boo at the Zoo event are earmarked for the fund. The Society has also partnered with companies like Pizza Hotline, Hot 103 FM and Carpathia Credit Union to raise additional funds for the new conservation centre.

Bear Debby leaves a hole

Despite memorial, zoo visitors lament polar bears’ absence

By: Staff Writer, 25/09/2009

Debby the polar bear may have departed this perilous planet, but her likeness lives on at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

The province of Manitoba has donated a statue of the Guinness record-setting carnivore to the zoo to help celebrate the life of its famous resident.

Click here to read more: http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/life/bear-debby-leaves-a-hole-61437642.html

The Assiniboine Park Conservancy has recently announced plans to assist in the construction of a world class arctic exhibit. For information on their plans, please visit: http://www.assiniboinepark.ca/mnufuture-vision#zoo


Grandparent’s Day at Assiniboine Park September 6, 2009

Join us on Sunday, September 13 for a park-wide celebration of grandparents. Here’s our Grandparent’s Day Activity Schedule:

Assiniboine Park Zoo – Open 10a to 4p
Free Zoo Admission to grandparents accompanied by grandchild
10:30a – Dedication of Polar Bear statue in front of the bear exhibits
11a to 1p – Free coffee or tea at the Animal Tracks Café for Grandparents
11a to 12p – Join us for cake at the Animal Tracks Café
11a to 2p – Free Trolley Tours for Grandparents when accompanied by paying grandchild
11a to 4p – Free interpretative talks
11a to 3p – Grandparents membership special
10a to 4p – Receive a Debby magnet or paperweight with any purchase of $20 or more at the Zoo Gift Shop

Leo Mol Sculpture Garden – Open 11a to 5p
1p; 2p; & 3p – Tours of Gallery, Schoolhouse Studio and the grounds of the Garden
Grandparents with a grandchild receive a package of Leo Mol Art Cards (value $7) while quantities last.

Pavilion Gallery Museum – Open 10a to 5p
Grandparents with a grandchild will receive a Pavilion Gallery Museum catalogue (value $15) while quantities last.

Conservatory – Open 9a to 4p
Conservatory Palm House self guided scavenger hunt maps
10a to noon – Conservatory bouquet making
Noon to 2p – Abilities Garden demonstration and samples from the “Pizza Garden”


Polar Run Wrap-Up March 24, 2009

Filed under: Fund Raising,Special Events,The Zoo and You — Scott Gray @ 10:37 am
Tags: , ,

I am happy to report, on behalf of the Zoological Society, that our 1st Annual Polar Run was a success! We had a great turnout with 150 runners and walkers joining us for the early morning family fun run. Thanks to Kramp Chiropractic for providing the runners with snacks.

The Zoological Society of Manitoba was also able to announce that it has reached it’s first Ice Cap thanks in part due to the great run turnout. What is an Ice Cap? We have now raised our first $10,000 in support of the Polar Bear Conservation Fund in Tribute to Debby.

But we’re certainly not stopping here – plans are underway for our Run Wild in May, our Zoo Brew Social in June, a super special September promotion and our Boo at the Zoo event in October. Proceeds from all of these events will be directed to the PBC Fund. If you would like to make a seperate donation to the fund to help us reach our goal of 25 Ice Caps in 2009, please visit http://www.zoosociety.com/fundraising_information.asp

Polar Runners are encouraged along the race route

Polar Runners are encouraged along the race route