April 11, 2014 3:51 pm

Journey to Churchill on track

WINNIPEG – Assiniboine Park Zoo is hard at work getting the Journey to Churchill exhibit ready.

The 10-acre project that has a price tag of $90 million is aiming to open their doors by the summer.

20095-AP-Journey to Churchill-FIN(PRESS)_June 17

“I think it’s a great idea, having something like this for Winnipeg is super,” said Neil Fry, a visitor at the zoo.

Once it opens, visitors will be able to get up close and interact with the animals like never before.

Gates and fences won’t be in the way anymore. Instead, clear acrylic will make for an unobstructed view of the animals.

“We want to build that emotional attachment so you need those experiences,” said Don Peterkin, Chief Operations Officer for the zoo.

Animals will also be able to interact with each other adding to habitat enrichment for the different species.

Seals and polar bears will swim in divided pools where they can see the other species. Once it’s done, other animals including eight musk ox, three arctic fox, 10-12 snowy owls, and 12 caribou will also call the exhibit home.

Hudson and the other polar bears will be moved to their new home leaving behind their old one which will be used for orphaned or rescued polar bears.

Hudson the polar bear at his current home

Ashley Carter/Global News

“We’re setting a new standard. The Journey to Churchill, when it opens, will be the foremost polar bear exhibit in the world. There will be nothing like it, we are setting a president for the world,” said Rick Chopp, Director of Major Projects for the zoo.

One of the main attractions at the exhibit will be the Sea Ice Passage, a tunnel that will let visitors see the polar bears and seals from below the surface of the water.

The Sea Ice Passage will be a main attraction

Ashley Carter/Global News

But all of that water has to be pumped and cleaned through the exhibit’s new state of the art filtration system. 500,000 gallons will be pumped through the system daily.

“It will be one of the largest salt water filtration systems in western Canada,” said Chopp.

Just one of the water filtration rooms

Ashley Carter/Global News

The project has been fours in the making and so far under construction for two years.

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