The Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo will welcome two male polar bears to the city to join the redeveloped Wild Canada zone.
Baffin (6) and Siku (7) will be coming from Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo later this fall, the two organizations announced Thursday.
Both of these bears were originally orphaned when they were less than one year old and were found wandering in the Churchill, Manitoba area before being taken in, according to information provided by the Assiniboine Park Zoo. At that time, they were identified as candidates for transfer to the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
“The transfer of these polar bears to the world-class polar bear habitat at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo represents the efforts of numerous passionate and dedicated teams in conservation-focused zoos and government,” read a statement from Jamie Dorgan, interim Chief Operating Officer at the Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo.
“Human-caused climate change is threatening polar bear habitat. These rescued bears will receive exceptional care and continue to act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, helping connect people to nature in ways that encourage them to take stronger action than ever before to protect wildlife and wild places.”
In 2018, LiveWire Calgary first reported potential plans to bring polar bears back to the zoo. Since that time investments have been made by the city and province, plus the Taylor and Brawn families to build a new enclosure. It’s expected that area will be reopened Dec. 1, 2023.
Polar bear group in Winnipeg
The Assiniboine Zoo is home to nine polar bears. Baffin and Siku were chosen because they get along and experts say they will thrive in a smaller group in Calgary.
“Baffin and Siku are exceptional polar bears and it has been our privilege to care for them here at Assiniboine Park Zoo,” said Dr. Chris Enright, Senior Director of Zoological Operations, Animal Management and Conservation, Assiniboine Park Conservancy.
“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.”
Research has shown that polar bears are unlikely to survive on their own at less than a year, so the decision was originally made to bring Baffin and Siku into human care.
Wild Canada is the redeveloped Canadian Wilds area at the Wilder Institute / Calgary Zoo.