Winnipeg zoo unveils new restaurant, playground

Assiniboine Park Zoo unveiled a new eatery and playground Friday afternoon.

Winnipeg zoo unveils new restaurant, playground

11 years ago
Duration 1:52
Assiniboine Park Zoo's new Tundra Grill and Polar Playground are among $200 million in upgrades.

Assiniboine Park Zoo unveiled a new eatery and playground Friday afternoon.

Doors to the Tundra Grill and Polar Playground opened at noon, part of the second-phase of $200 million worth of upgrades at the zoo.

The playground features a jungle gym, slides and interactive games where children can make their own music.

"When people come here, they have this incredible experience, as if they’re actually up north," said Margaret Redmond, the president of the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

But the zoo is aiming to make the area educational as well.

"They also learn about how this beautiful place in our province is threatened," said Redmond.

Orca Coast Playgrounds, the company that designed the play area, said there isn’t another structure like it anywhere in the world.

"This playground – I would describe as the most advanced playground ever made," said Orca Coast’s Bill Dunbar.

The restaurant, playground and gift shop are all housed in one building with floor-to-ceiling windows that separate guests from the Journey to Churchill polar-bear exhibit.

"We really are committed to doing very unique things and really creating a world-class experience," said Redmond.

Visitors will have the chance to dine with polar bears (behind thick-paned glass) when the exhibit is unveiled in 2014.

Eatery uses special technology to minimize food smells

The same day the playground opened to the public, so did the Tundra Grill, a new restaurant available to visitors of the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Designing the restaurant involved lengthy measures to ensure the zoo's animals, especially its polar bears, weren't tempted by the food in its new restaurant.

The restaurant sits next to where the Journey to Churchill exhibit is being built.

Hudson, a 15-month-old polar bear, recently arrived from Toronto to take residence in the exhibit. A number of other polar bears are expected to join him, and zoo officials don't want food smells agitating the animals.

The building has a high-tech ventilation system that uses pollution scrubbers and ultraviolet lights to eliminate 99.9 per cent of odours before the air is exhausted outside.

Even the garbage is refrigerated to keep all odours away from the animals.

Redmond said currently 400,000 people visit the Assiniboine Park Zoo every year. With the new exhibits opening soon, those numbers are expected to rise.