Manitoba

Heavy horse centre opening next week at Assiniboine Park Zoo

Visitors to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo can soon learn about heavy horses, the "gentle giants" that had a prominent role in Manitoba's early history, at a new exhibit opening next week.

McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre is home to 4 Percheron horses

Visitors to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo can soon learn about heavy horses, the "gentle giants" that had a prominent role in Manitoba's early history, at a new exhibit opening next week. 1:32
Visitors to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo can soon learn about heavy horses, the "gentle giants" that had a prominent role in Manitoba's early history, at a new exhibit opening next week.
The McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre at Assiniboine Park Zoo is home to four Percheron heavy horses. (Brett Purdy/CBC)

Reporters got a sneak peak of the McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre on Wednesday.

Zoo officials say it will open to the public on Aug. 28 at 9 a.m.

The centre is the result of a $2-million gift from Ray McFeetors, former CEO and chairman of Great-West Life, as well as a $250,000 gift from the insurance company.

The McFeetors family took part in a horse and wagon ride — the exhibit's first ride — at Wednesday's announcement.

The exhibit will be home to four Percheron horses, which were used in farming and in transporting freight during the province's pioneer era.

The McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre includes a barn, pastures, paddocks and a carriage shed. (Brett Purdy/CBC)
Known as "gentle giants," the horses were relied on because of "their strength and tireless work ethic," according to the zoo's website.

"Heavy horses were once as common and vital to farming as tractors are today," McFeetors said in a news release issued by the zoo.

"As one who grew up in that era, it's my privilege to support this exhibit celebrating Manitoba's agricultural past and to help today's families experience rural life how it once was."

The year-round exhibit, which covers a 4.7-acre area, includes a barn, pastures, paddocks and a carriage shed.

Visitors can tour the barn. As well, the zoo will offer wagon rides in the summer and sleigh rides in the winter at a price of $3 per person.

The outdoor paddock area has three holding areas where visitors can see the horses.

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