Our trip to Winnipeg had to include visiting the Zoo. They started on the redevelopment upgrades before we left, and we were able to catch some of them, including Toucan Ridge the Lion Pavilion, and the beginnings of the Polar Bear Conservation Center but none of the exhibits.
This time we saw the new entrance, the Australian Walkabout, and the completed Journey to Churchill. The Journey to Churchill includes the polar bear exhibits, Artic foxes, wolves, musk ox, caribou, snowy owl, and seal habitats. The Conservation Center also includes a 360-degree theater with cultural informational movie, and underwater viewing tunnels. I can definitely say that the Polar Bear exhibit is an upgrade from the old one. The fact that they are only taking rescued polar bears from Churchill makes it that much better.
The Assiniboine Park Conservancy plans to raise and spend $200 million on the Park (including the Zoo) by 2020. They have already completed phase one (nature playground, Streuber Family Children’s Garden, Riley Family Duck Pond, Qualico Family Centre, and the Park Cafe) and phase two (Journey to Churchill). They will soon be opening the McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre. Phase three will be a horticulture attraction called Canada’s Diversity Gardens.
I couldn’t find any information on the plans for the rest of the zoo. There are many empty pens, or as we called them, “Goose Exhibits”, and most of the farm was closed. I was also dismayed to hear about issues the zoo has had, including wolves tunneling into the polar bear enclosure, and polar bears chewing through the silicone sealing and causing leaks in the viewing tunnel. It seems like those are some big oversights in planing. I can only hope that those responsible for all the goodness (such as the polar bear rescue) continue to fight for upgrades to the zoo, and for conservation and educational efforts that will help animals and humans for generations to come.