As remembrances of Debby, the world’s oldest living polar bear, continued to arrive at Winnipeg's zoo Wednesday, Manitobans faced the reality they may not see another such animal in the city for years.
A zoo fixture for 41 years, Debby, died at age 42 on Monday.
The enclosure she lived in doesn't meet today's standards for polar bears in captivity.
Zoo co-ordinator Dr. Gord Glover said there are no immediate plans to build a new enclosure, which could cost up to $20 million. Glover said the zoo one day would like to have a world-class bear exhibit – especially in Manitoba which draws tourists to the northern town of Churchill because of the town's polar bears.
"If we build a new polar bear exhibit it's not just going to be an exhibit," said Glover. "It's going to be a conservation centre for polar bears and an Arctic exhibit."
Debby was born in the Russian Arctic in 1966 and came to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo as an orphan a year later.
She gave birth to six offspring with her mate Skipper, who died in 1999 at age 34. All her cubs are still alive.
Debby entered the Guinness World Records as the oldest living polar bear this year. More than 18 million people visited Debby during her four decades at the zoo.