The first tenant at Winnipeg's International Polar Bear Conservation Centre is not a polar bear, but an orphaned black bear cub.

The young female black bear has been residing at the centre, which is located at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, since Wednesday.

The malnourished cub was spotted last week near Jessica Lake in Manitoba's Whiteshell region. She was brought to the attention of Manitoba Conservation, which called zoo officials and asked if they could help.

Tim Sinclair-Smith, the zoo's director of zoological operations, said a special decision was made to house the cub at the polar bear centre, even though she is not a polar bear.

"She definitely has a great attitude, though," he told CBC News on Thursday.

"For a little bear that's been probably through what she's been through, and being the way she is, she certainly stands up for herself."

Zoo veterinarians examined the black bear cub and determined she is in reasonably good health. She is currently recuperating under the zoo's standard 30-day quarantine period.

Sinclair-Smith said he is hopeful the cub will recover. Once she does, she will eventually be transferred to another accredited zoo.

The $4.5-million International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, which opened last month, aims to provide a home for orphaned, injured or problem polar bears.

Housing the black bear cub at the polar bear centre will give staff an opportunity to test out the new facility before they receive their first polar bear, Sinclair-Smith added.