The bears — six-year-old Baffin and seven-year-old Siku — have resided at the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conversation Centre for several years after being found orphaned as cubs near Churchill, Man., and deemed unlikely to survive without human intervention.
“Baffin and Siku are exceptional polar bears and it has been our privilege to care for them here at Assiniboine Park Zoo,” said Dr. Chris Enright, Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s director of veterinary services. “We will miss them tremendously, but know they are going to a wonderful new home at another leading Canadian AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums)-accredited zoo where they will help share the story of Churchill, Manitoba, and the impact of climate change on the Arctic with visitors from across Canada and around the world.”
Polar bear selfie gallery
The Calgary Zoo’s new polar bear habitat, located in the redeveloped Canadian Wilds section of the zoo, is scheduled to open to the public on Dec. 1.
“The transfer of these polar bears to the world-class polar bear habitat at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo represents the efforts of numerous passionate and dedicated teams in conservation-focused zoos and government,” explained Jamie Dorgan, Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo’s interim chief operating officer. “Human-caused climate change is threatening polar bear habitat. These rescued bears will receive exceptional care and continue to act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, helping connect people to nature in ways that encourage them to take stronger action than ever before to protect wildlife and wild places.”
According to zoo officials, the habitat is being constructed with guidance from polar bear care experts and includes:
- expansive tree-filled grassy meadows;
- rock features;
- several pools ranging in depth from three to five metres;
- a wading stream; and
- an unobscured view of the horizon.
The zoo’s bighorn sheep and Rocky mountain goats, as well as the raptors of the Jihad Shibley Rocky Mountain Aviary, will be moved off of the zoo grounds in early August to ensure they’re not negatively impacted by the construction. The zoo previously moved the North American river otters, muskox, bison, woodland caribou and whooping cranes offsite.
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