WINNIPEG – The Assiniboine Park Zoo’s recent development is the latest in a series of upgrades since its humble beginnings in 1904.
This timeline was culled from the Assiniboine Park Zoo website.
1904: The City of Winnipeg Parks Board purchases a number of native animals, deer, bison and elk. A bear enclosure is built and followed in 1916 with another enclosure.
1929: The zoo’s budget is $8,000 (including $1,800 for food, $4,200 for labour).
1956: The Zoological Society of Manitoba is formed.
1957: The society helps raise funds for and develop a children’s petting zoo.
1959: Officially named Assiniboine Park Zoo.
1964: The gibbon/monkey house is completed.
1967: The bear enclosure is renovated. This year also saw the arrival of two polar bear cubs, Dennis and Debby.
1968: Construction of the Tropical House begins.
1969: Construction of the Native Animal Exhibit and the South Gate is completed.
1987: The East Gate main entrance is reconstructed to include a gift shop.
1989: The Panda Project begins to take form. A new facility is built for the animals.
1990: The Kinsmen Discovery Centre opens.
1993: An admission fee is instituted.
1995: New enclosures for camels, yaks, and zebras open, including the Camel Oasis Interpretive Playground.
1998: In co-operation with the Winnipeg Foundation, the society installs $70,000 worth of electrical infrastructure.
2000: The society and the zoo begin work on developing a new master plan development proposal for the zoo. Initial proposals are made for the redesign of the polar bear enclosure.
2008: The Assiniboine Park Conservancy is established with a mandate to develop, govern and manage the park and its amenities, including the zoo.
June 2009: The APC unveils a $200-million redevelopment plan for Assiniboine Park and Zoo that will be completed over 10 years in three phases.
June 2010: Plans for the new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre are unveiled.
March 2011: The province and the APC unveil plans for the Journey to Churchill exhibit.
April 2011: The APC reveals the first new exhibit created under the redevelopment plan, Toucan Ridge, located in what used to be the Tropical House. It features animal, bird and plant life from the new-world tropics of Central and South America.
June 2011: The Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden opens for its first season.
January 2012: The International Polar Bear Conservation Centre opens.
June 2012: The APC launches its Imagine a Place fundraising campaign with a 30-day million-dollar challenge. The original $1-million goal is surpassed with a total of $2.1 million raised.
January 2013: Hudson the polar bear arrives in Winnipeg. He will be the Journey to Churchill’s first inhabitant when it opens in 2014. Hudson was officially unveiled to the public on Valentine’s Day 2013.
February 2013: The Tundra Grill and Polar Playground are officially unveiled.
May 2013: The Assiniboine Park Zoo welcomes three African black-footed penguins. They are part of a temporary exhibit until September.
May 2013: The Australian Walkabout opens, offering zoo-goers an opportunity to get up close and personal with kangaroos and emus.
June 2013: James Cohen and Linda McGarva-Cohen donate $500,000 to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s Imagine a Place campaign. The gift is designated towards building a new habitat for Asian large cats.
June 2013: The Assiniboine Park Conservancy breaks ground on a new entrance to the zoo. The $5.5-million project has a projected completion date of summer 2014.
May 2014: Prince Charles feeds Hudson the polar bear at the zoo as part of his Canadian tour.
July 3, 2014: The Journey to Churchill polar bear exhibit opens.
July 7, 2014: Wolves tunnel into the polar bear enclosure in the Journey to Churchill exhibit, making it necessary to take polar bears out of their public viewing area to allow changes to be made.
Sept. 10, 2014: The zoo announces it will create a heavy horse exhibit, a nod to Manitoba’s agricultural history.
Sept. 19, 2014: The zoo announces it has closed the polar bear underwater viewing gallery after the bears chewed the silicone sealing the area, causing leaks. The area, a key attraction at the zoo, remained closed for more than two months.
Sept. 25, 2014: The Assiniboine Park Zoo faces harsh criticism after officials announce that one of their tigers was killed in a fight with another tiger after a gate between two enclosures was left unlocked overnight. Baikal, 19, was killed in a fight with a younger tiger, Vasili.
Nov. 24, 2014: A blind harbour seal dies when it’s trapped in a drain in the Journey to Churchill exhibit. Zoocheck calls the incident “foreseeable.”
© Shaw Media, 2014