For the third time in a year, Assiniboine Park Zoo has welcomed a polar bear into its facilities.
The zoo revealed photos and a video of a newly adopted 11-month-old polar bear cub on Tuesday. The female cub has taken up residence in the zoo after being found orphaned near a Churchill airport.
The polar bear, who weighs about 38 kilograms, will remain in quarantine for about a month before she enters an exhibit.
“She’s a ferocious little thing,” said Brian Joseph, the zoo’s director of zoological operations. “She’s a confident little girl, and we’re pleased with that.”
The zoo agreed to take her in as there are no known cases of orphaned polar bear cubs surviving in the wild without their moms.
Manitoba Conservation officials in Thompson waited for days after for the cub’s mom to return to her but had no luck.
“An extensive search of the area was made for a female polar bear,” said Jim Duncan, the director of Manitoba Conservation’s wildlife branch. “None being found, we came to the conclusion that the bear was indeed orphaned.”
Duncan said it would have been cruel to leave the animal in the wild.
“In the world and on its own, it probably would experience a long and drawn out painful death,” he said.
Joseph is hoping the animal will eventually be able to breed with male polar bears in captivity.
“It’s our intention that this little female, with consensus with Manitoba Conservation, would be introduced to a male polar bear and become part of a breeding program,” he said.
The zoo already houses Hudson, who arrived earlier this year and another polar bear who was dropped off last month after attacking a human in Churchill.
Another polar bear could be on its way soon, as the zoo has agreed to house an Argentinean polar bear named Arturo, if he's healthy enough to travel to the zoo. Assiniboine Park Zoo officials are travelling to Argentina to assess the bear's health next month.
If he is strong enough to make the trip, he will join the existing brood at the Journey to Churchill exhibit, which is slated to open in 2014.