The duo, six-year-old Baffin and seven-year-old Siku, were found orphaned near Churchill, Man., at less than a year old and taken to the Winnipeg zoo’s polar bear conservation centre, where they’ve thrived ever since.
They’re headed to the new polar bear habitat at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo this fall as part of a partnership between the two facilities.
Dr. Chrs Enright says the bears will be able to connect with — and potentially make an impact on — an entirely new audience in their new home than they did in Winnipeg.
“These bears are ambassadors. These are bears that have no chance of survival in the wild, but what they can do is tell the story of climate change,” Enright told Global Winnipeg.
“The more people care about polar bears, the more people change our behaviour — we can help keep polar bears in the wild, in northern Manitoba, for the next 50-100 years.”
Calgary’s new habitat — which includes rock features, tree-filled grassy meadows, numerous pools and a wading stream — was built in consultation with experts from Winnipeg’s zoo, which hosts the award-winning Journey to Churchill exhibit and the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.
“Baffin and Siku are exceptional polar bears and it has been our privilege to care for them here at Assiniboine Park Zoo,” said Enright.
“We will miss them tremendously, but know they are going to a wonderful new home at another leading Canadian AZA-accredited zoo where they will help share the story of Churchill, Manitoba, and the impact of climate change on the Arctic with visitors from across Canada and around the world.”
Winnipeg’s zoo is currently home to nine polar bears, and Baffin and Siku were chosen for the move to Calgary based on their personalities, their roles within the larger group dynamics, and the fact that they get along well together.
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