July 25, 2014 11:35 am
Updated: July 25, 2014 12:45 pm

Young Ottawa conservationist helps with Winnipeg polar bear training

Polar bears swim at the Journey to Churchill exhibit at Assiniboine Park Zoo. An Ottawa girl will get a chance to participate in training one of the animals on Friday.

Lauren McNabb / Global News

WINNIPEG – An Ottawa girl who has raised thousands of dollars for polar bear conservation got an up-close encounter with one of the animals at the Assiniboine Park Zoo on Friday.

Olivia Clement, 11, has made and sold polar bear figurines, launched a website, hosted fundraisers and donated more than $12,000 for the World Wildlife Fund to help the threatened species.

Olivia Clement, 11, got her first look at a living polar bear at the Assiniboine Park Zoo on Friday.

Rudi Pawlychyn / Global News

But the enthusiastic conservationist had never seen a polar bear in real life before Friday.

“Some time ago, we received a letter from Olivia. She wanted to know about our Journey to Churchill exhibit and how we care for polar bears at Assiniboine Park Zoo,” said Don Peterkin, chief operations officer for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. “We were so inspired by her passion and dedication we promised that if she ever made it to Winnipeg, we would give her the opportunity to meet our bears.”

VIDEO: Polar bears swim at new Winnipeg zoo exhibit

Clement and her mom, Julie Clement, toured the zoo’s new state-of-the-art Journey to Churchill exhibit, which houses polar bears Hudson, Aurora, Kaska and Storm, and got a chance to participate in Hudson’s positive reinforcement training.

Clement will also return to the zoo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday to sell her polar bear figurines outside the Tundra Grill. All proceeds will go to the zoo.

READ MORE: Assiniboine Park Zoo

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