New baby polar bear at Winnipeg zoo

This 11-month-old polar bear cub now calls Assiniboine Park Zoo home

Credits: ZOO PHOTO


WINNIPEG -- The Assiniboine Park Zoo has a new baby bear.

An 11-month-old female polar bear was saved from almost certain death and flown here from Churchill by Calm Air on Monday.

“That cub had been found wandering near the airport,” Assiniboine Park Conservancy CEO Don Peterkin said Tuesday. “It’s too young to survive on its own ... She is in relatively good health but she is kind of thin, which is to be expected at this time of year, and she does have a few dental issues that will require attention in the short term, but not something that’s not easily addressed.”

The cub, which weighs 94 pounds, is now going through the standard 30-day quarantine.

“If everything checks out OK, she would be introduced to the community at some point down the road between now and Christmas,” Peterkin said. “And she will become a resident of the Journey to Churchill exhibit.”

The cub will be named by students in Churchill. Once old enough, the female will be introduced to the males to encourage mating.

Meanwhile, Peterkin and two other zoo officials will travel to Mendoza, Argentina, on Sunday to check on the possibilities of bringing a 28-year-old male polar bear named Arturo here in the spring and to help the Mendoza Zoo make improvements.

That zoo had been looking to relocate the bear to a better facility with a more suitable climate for him.

“Should he be deemed medically suitable for that purpose, (the) Assiniboine Park Zoo would cover all costs related to that transition to Winnipeg,” Peterkin said. “While he may not have too many years left, it’s likely to be longer if he’s in a more appropriate climate with the care we can offer here in Winnipeg.”

Such a transfer would require permits from both Argentina and Canada.

“As an old bear who has lived alone for a number of years, Arturo may not be a candidate for integrating with some of the younger bears that we will have the Journey to Churchill exhibit,” Peterkin said. “We can anticipate that there will be some challenges that way ... We will only recommend moving Arturo our way should it be determined that it’s in the bear’s best interest.”

The cub will join two males at the polar bear facility -- Hudson and the bear that was brought here after biting a man in Churchill.

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