October 7, 2015

Assiniboine Park Zoo's Journey to Churchill

My first visit to Winnipeg, Manitoba was back in October 2011, when I joined fellow zoo professionals on a journey to the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill, Manitoba, as part of Polar Bears International's Leadership Camp. Now, almost 4 years to the day, I ventured back in Winnipeg. Surrounded by a similar crowd, but for a different reason, polar bears were still a hot topic of conversation.

Today, zoos and aquariums play an important role in polar bear research and conservation, including providing a home for orphaned cubs that would not otherwise survive in the wild and educating the public to take action on climate change and help protect this iconic species for future generations. AS a leader in the Zoo community, and with its proximity to polar bear territory, the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg plays a large role in polar bear research, conservation and education in Canada. 

Assiniboine Park Zoo's entrance

The Zoo's new Journey to Churchill exhibit is the most comprehensive northern species exhibit of its kind in the world. Home to polar bears, musk ox, grey wolves and more, the award-winning exhibit allows visitors to discover the magic of the North, while making a connection with these iconic Arctic species. And while visiting last week, I felt right at home.

journey to churchill entrance
musk ox lying down
snowy owl on log
reindeer standing

Currently home to 7 polar bears, the 10 acre section of the Zoo is an educational classroom like no other, inviting visitors to learn about biodiversity, climate change and conservation. It is also home to the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, an education, research and transition facility that is the first home for orphaned Canadian polar bears before they are transitioned into Journey to Churchill, and even on to another zoo within Canada. 

entrance to Gateway to the Arctic building

When touring Journey to Churchill, the Gateway to the Arctic building is where you really want to be. The impressive Sea Ice Passage gives visitors the rare opportunity to view polar bears and seals swim from below the surface of the water. With the bears playing above us, it's where I stood in awe for almost an hour.  

polar bear in sea ice passage
polar bear selfie
polar bear paws

Polar bears have a special place in my heart.

What's your favourite animal? Have you been to the Assiniboine Park Zoo? 

hudson the polar bear

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