Tails From The Zoo

Mission: Big Foot – Learning to Walk Softer July 5, 2009

You can now help the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the planet at the same time you are learning how to keep some money in your own pockets!

The Zoological Society of Manitoba has teamed up with Planet Partnership® to help our patrons learn how to be more sustainable – and it only takes 45 minutes. Here’s just some questions we’ll answer for you:

What is sustainability and what does it mean to our future?

Is it a fad or a trend?

What are the human contributions to the problem?

Why are the environmental, economic and global consequences important to me?

How can I create a personal action plan for carbon reduction and save money ?

50% of all proceeds benefit our zoo – so tell your neighbors, your co-workers and even your boss to participate in this great program. It’s a win for all of us! Make your pledge to do your part, because, “If Not You, Then Who?”

Here’s how to participate: Go to www.planetpartnership.com

Choose Take the Training

Enter this password:  rfapz25

Enter your credit card information for the registration fee of $15.00 – Remember that 50% comes back to us in support of conservation and education programs at the Assiniboine Park Zoo!

Register your username and password. Write down your username and password so you don’t forget it – you may need it again.

You can watch our cumulative numbers grow on the website, under carbon reduction totals.


Spirit of the Earth Award Winner

I am happy to announce that the Zoo Education Centre was one of the recipients of the 2009 Spirit of the Earth Awards, a project of Manitoba Hydro. The program that we won for is called Aboriginal Animal Teachings.

Aboriginal people have always used storytelling as a way of teaching important lessons to children, as well as entertaining members of their family or community. Elders, both women and men, kept animal legends, their message and morals, alive throughout the generations. It is our hope to help continue to keep these stories and legends alive for future generations, with the Aboriginal Animal Stories program. The objectives of the Aboriginal Animal Teachings program include:

  • Introducing people of all ages, especially youth, to indigenous North American animals.
  • Creating a connection between art, science and culture through wildlife.
  • Introducing people to Aboriginal beliefs, values and stories, especially as they pertain to the natural world.
  • Creating an awareness of the value of storytelling as a way of passing information from one generation to another

Spirit of the Earth Awards Program

Manitoba Hydro fosters environmental awareness and encourages initiatives that improve our environment. At the same time, Manitoba Hydro recognizes the significance of Aboriginal people and their culture to the Province of Manitoba. Manitoba Hydro wanted to link these initiatives, and in 2002, introduced a program called Spirit of the Earth Awards. Now in its seventh year, the annual Spirit of the Earth Awards publicly recognizes positive environmental achievements by Aboriginal people or that directly involve Aboriginal people.

The intent of the Spirit of the Earth Awards is to promote environmental awareness and to recognize the culture and history of Aboriginal people.

2009 Award Winners:

The following list includes some wonderful programs that were recognized this year. Congratulations to all of the recipients. Spirit of the Earth Awards were presented on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2009.

  • Mino Aski (Good Earth) Culture Camps, Misipawistik Cree Nation Health Authority – week-long camps that promote a healthy lifestyle for youth.
  • Darryl Nepinak – internationally recognized Aboriginal filmmaker who explores the Anishinabe people and their culture, and uses humour to break down cultural barriers.
  • Friendship Garden – Erickson Elementary School, Erickson, MB.
  • University of Manitoba Graduation Pow Wow – honours Aboriginal graduates from the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.
  • University College of the North – Aboriginal Midwifery Baccalaureate Program.
  • Promoting Métis Culture – Channing, Chelsea and Christie Lavalee, for their collective contributions toward the preservation of Métis culture.
  • Zoological Society of Manitoba – Aboriginal animal teachings.
  • Urban Circle Training Centre – holistic approach to training and employment for Aboriginal women and men.
  • Laura Warenchuk, Buchanan School, Winnipeg – The Spirit of Buchanan School program encourages eco-conscious activities and crafts.
  • Traditional Area Advisory Councils (Hollow Water & Black River First Nations) – working on land use and moose management programs with Manitoba Conservation, in consultation with Manitoba Model Forest Inc.

Zoos in Our World April 30, 2009

This is a letter from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, in response to concerns from a small group of concerned citizens regarding the necessity of zoos, and is reprinted with permission.


It’s been argued that zoos and aquariums are no longer relevant.

To the contrary, today’s accredited zoos and aquariums are needed more than ever to help Canadians connect with our natural world. We live in a world beset by environmental problems, with animal species disappearing at an alarming rate. Climate change is wreaking havoc with natural systems. On top of all this, our urban lifestyles have divorced Canadians from the realities of the animal world.

Our accredited zoos and aquariums are no longer the archaic pens holding sad animals in prison that have been justly criticized in the past. They conduct active programs of species survival and research and conservation, both at their facilities and in the field. They deliver education programs in their communities. Most of all, they are all required to deliver the best in care for the animals they are responsible for.

Today’s zoos and aquariums are often the only, and the best opportunity for urbanites – particularly youth – to establish a connection with the natural world of animals. Sadly, many of us will never experience the joy and wonder of encountering animals in their natural habitat, but the next best option is to get to know them up close and personal in a modern zoo. If you’ve had the good fortune to spend time in an accredited zoo or aquarium and have seen the sense of awe and wonder on the faces of youngsters meeting a big cat, a polar bear, a sea otter for the first time, you’ll know what this is all about.

Zoos and aquariums are supported by committed volunteers, members and donors and importantly, they’re vital contributors to our economy.

Despite the most committed and professional care by staff, deaths do occur. They happen in the real world, and they happen in zoos and aquariums; that reality cannot stand in the way of carrying out our mission – connecting Canadians to nature.

Bill Peters

National Director, Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums




February Eco-Dates January 30, 2009

Each month we will be highlighting upcoming eco-dates on your calendar. While we missed January, we’ve got February ready to go!

February 2      – World Wetlands Day

February 12    – Darwin Day

February 23    – National Heritage Day

February 28    – National Science Day

Admittedly, not a busy month but a big one if you’re a fan of Darwin and of evolution. February 12 will mark both the 200 birthday of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversery of his seminal book, The Origin of the Species. Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection turned a lot of head back in the day and skeptics and scholars were aghast that something called evolution could be at work in the natural world. For more information on Darwin Day, please visit http://www.darwinday.org/

Both the Zoological Society of Manitoba and the Assiniboine Park Zoo are planning lots of activities for many of this year’s upcoming eco-dates including Biodiversity Day, Endangered Species Day, Turtle Day, World Animal Day and more. I hope you can make it out to the zoo over the coming weeks and months and join us as we celebrate the natural world and highlight the work that is being done to preserve and conserve the thousands of plants and animals that are losing their battle for survival.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo – open today and every day.


Jungle Love – We’re Wild at Heart! January 29, 2009

The birds and the bees have long been used to explain mating but what about lusty lions or passionate peafowl? The Education Department at the Assiniboine Park Zoo has been helping to unravel the mysteries of animal courtship, mating and everything that goes along with “making babies” for several years now. In fact, this will be our 4th annual Valentine’s Day inspired look at the love lives of animals.

We like to keep this talk light, humorous and slightly shocking as we begin to explore the weird, the wacky and the sometimes downright dangerous mating habits of animals.  We’ll explain why plants would not bloom, birds would not sing, deer would not have such nice racks, hearts would not beat so fast and why much of what is flamboyant and beautiful in nature would simply not exist without sex.

Keep in mind that our talks are like most males, all talk and no action. Just a lot of fun. Here are a couple of examples…

Did you know?

  • The male green spoon worm is 200,000 times smaller than the female! He spends his whole life sitting in a special chamber inside the female fertilizing her eggs.
  • Female moorhens prefer the shortest, fattest males! If they are fat then they have enough food reserves to sit longer on a clutch of eggs and are more successful at hatching.

Wild at Heart: Two Presentations to choose from.

February 12 or February 13, 6:30 – 8:30 pm

Coffee and desserts  will be served during the break.

Zoo Education Centre, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Corydon Ave Entrance

Please call us at 982-0664 to book your spot or visit http://www.zoosociety.com. Please note – there is a minimum age restriction on these talks – no children allowed due to the subject matter.


Year of the Frog Review December 5, 2008

The Zoological Society of Manitoba and the Assiniboine Park Zoo helped kick of Year of the Frog (YOTF) in February of this year (on Leap Day none-the-less!) as we joined hundreds of zoos, aquariums and conservation organizations bring about public awareness about amphibians. The Amphibian Ark helped spearhead this massive global public awareness campaign to focus the public’s attention on endangered amphibians, of which there hundreds of species in peril. It also helped focus attention on the critical work being done by zoos and aquariums to save them.  The Zoological Society of Manitoba has been supporting this worldwide initiative with special events, educational programs and community outreach efforts throughout 2008.

The Zoological Society’s Education Department included YOTF in many of its programs in 2008, including spring and summer zoo camps, school programs and interpretive talks, tours and educational booths. We will continue to do so over the coming years. The zoo has also just realeased a series of 15 new amphibian interpretive signs. These new signs will be found throughout the zoo in the spring of 2009, not next to exhibits, but next to the ponds and natural areas in the park. Many people don’t realize that some of the animal sounds that they hear at the zoo in the spring and early summer are not from the zoo’s residents but from wood frogs, boreal chorus frogs, leopard frongs, spring peepers and other frogs and toads that call the Assiniboine Park and Zoo home.

For more information on YOTF, please visit www.zoosociety.com


Wild Links! November 17, 2008

The Zoo Education Centre has been busy finding lots of fantastic links to wildlife organizations for you. Use our list to help you with students, teachers and group leader, info finds, general browsing, and so much more.

This is a short list of organizations that are affiliated or work with zoos in some way. If you would like to see the whole list, please visit: http://www.zoosociety.com/Education/conservation.asp

Organizations based out of North America:

Alliance for Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums:  http://www.ammpa.org

American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZA):  http://www.aazv.org

American Bird Conservancy (ABC):  www.abcbirds.org

Bat Conservation International (BCI):  www.batcon.org

Bushmeat Crisis Task Force:  http://www.bushmeat.org

Butterfly Conservation Initiative (BFCI):  www.butterflyrecovery.org

Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA):  http://www.caza.ca

Center for Biological Diversity:  http://www.biologicaldiversity.org

Conservation International (CI):  www.conservation.org

Defenders of Wildlife:  www.defenders.org

International Elephant Foundation: http://www.elephantconservation.org

International Rhino Foundation:  http://www.rhinos-irf.org

Last Chance for Animals (LCA):  www.lcanimal.org

National Audubon Society:  www.audubon.org

National Wildlife Federation (NWF):  www.nwf.org

The Nature Conservancy:  www.nature.org

Ocean Alliance:  www.oceanalliance.org

The Peregrine Fund:  www.peregrinefund.org

Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS):  http://www.paws.org

Rainforest Action Network (RAN):  www.ran.org

Rainforest Alliance:  http://www.rainforest-alliance.org

Timber Wolf Information Network (TWIN):  http://www.timberwolfinformation.org

Waterkeepers Alliance:  www.waterkeeper.org

Wilderness Society:  http://www.wilderness.org

Wildlife Alliance:  www.wildlifealliance.org

Wildlife Society:  http://joomla.wildlife.org

Wolf Recovery Foundation:  www.forwolves.org

World Parrot Trust:  www.parrots.org

World Wildlife Fund:  www.worldwildlife.org

Animal Organizations based outside of North America:

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE):  www.zeroextinction.org

Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (ARAZPA):  www.arazpa.org.au

European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA):  http://www.eaza.net

Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA):  http://www.jazga.or.jp/english/index.html

Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR):  http://www.ssarherps.org

Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA):  http://www.turtlesurvival.org

World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA):  http://www.waza.org

World Owl Trust (WOT):  www.owls.org