Winnipeg zoo getting a polar bear
Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo is getting a polar bear.
Hudson, a 15-month-old polar bear from the Toronto Zoo, is making the move in next couple of weeks then he needs to adapt to his new home.
No date has yet been set for when he will be on exhibit for the public, but Bill Rapley of the Toronto Zoo says Hudson is a "very energetic" bear who loves people.
"He's got great behaviour, he's very interactive with the public. He's a real interesting bear," Rapley told reporters on Thursday.
Assiniboine Park Zoo has been without a polar bear since its long-time resident, Debby, died in 2008 at age 42. The zoo was not able to get another polar bear because its enclosure no longer met provincial standards.
That served as the impetus for the $26-million Journey to Churchill exhibit, which is currently under construction and set to open in 2014.
It will be 20 times larger than the enclosure that housed Debby and will include underwater and above-ground viewing opportunities to enable visitors to come face to face with up to six bears.
The exhibit will also feature caribou, arctic fox, snowy owls and musk oxen.
It will also have a variety of interactive elements, including an aurora borealis 360-degree theatre; motorized polar bear tundra tours; a rooftop Tundra Garden; and a new restaurant, gift shop and children's play area.
Hudson will make his temporary home in the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (IPBCC), which opened last year. The $4.5-million facility is a research centre as well as a residence for orphaned, injured or problem polar bears.
Hudson will move into the Journey to Churchill exhibit when it is ready.
Born at the Toronto Zoo in October 2011, Hudson was the only surviving cub in a litter of three and was closely monitored and cared for around the clock by Toronto Zoo veterinary staff for the first three months of his life, prior to moving into the Zoo’s Tundra Trek Exhibit.
The move to Winnipeg marks the next step in Hudson’s life as he continues to mature into an adult male bear, according to officials from the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
"People really do see Manitoba as that polar bear capital, and I think they do have a natural sort of love for polar bears that will draw them to visit and welcome him," said Tim Sinclair-Smith, director of zoological operations.