Arctic Vets

These polar bears play with bubbles for their health

It's all part of polar bear enrichment at Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

It's all part of polar bear enrichment at Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

Polar bears play with bubbles

25 days ago
Duration 1:00
These rescued polar bears play with bubbles as part of their enrichment at Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg. 1:00

Why are these polar bears surrounded by bubbles? Short answer: stimulation!

The bears are all rescues who, for various health reasons, can't be released back into the wild. They live at Assiniboine Park Conservancy (APC) in Winnipeg, which is the setting of the series Arctic Vets. To help mimic the physical and mental stimulation they'd receive in nature, the animal care specialists at APC do things like blow bubbles for them. This falls under a category of activities known as "enrichment."

"Enrichment can be used for a bunch of different reasons but sometimes it can just be for fun," says APC animal care specialist Jackie Enberg.

As part of enrichment, animal care specialists also get to do things like play fetch with the bears, or blow bubbles for them, or get them to do "yoga." And while these may seem like tricks, they're actually all therapeutic. Getting the bears stretching allows animal care specialists to see their range of motion. Doing things like playing fetch or blowing bubbles also keeps the bears stimulated and allows them to use their hunting skills.

"Polar bears are known for their sense of smell," says Enberg. "They'll kind of follow the bubbles and they'll even use their nose and find where the bubbles are landing. So it also gets them using their nose."


Watch Arctic Vets, Fridays at 8:30 (9 NT) on CBC, or stream it on CBC Gem.

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