The Assiniboine Park Zoo hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but it is now home to not just one, but two orphaned polar bear cubs.
An male cub just arrived at the facility last week – the second bear to arrive at the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in the past few weeks – after both were deemed in need of help by Manitoba Sustainable Development.
The cub, which is about a year old and weighs only 85 pounds — the lightest orphan the centre has ever received — arrived last Friday after officials travelled up to Churchill to supervise the journey south.
The cub has adjusted well to his new surroundings.
The zoo called the rescue another sign of the changing environment in the north.
“Each year we hope that the ice formation is not delayed and polar bears can get out on the sea ice. This year it was very late and has put enormous pressure on polar bears, people, and conservation officers in Churchill. We are always here to help but can’t forget that this is a reminder to all of us about the close tie between sea ice and polar bears. The loss of sea ice due to climate change is alarming and it is critical that we work together as a community to reduce our carbon foot print and take personal actions to positively impact the environment, not only for polar bears but for all wildlife.”
Just last month, an orphaned female cub arrived at the facility. She was about 11-months-old and weighed 100 lbs upon arrival.
“The young cub was observed alone in the Churchill area without its mother for some time before wandering near the town,” the zoo explained on Nov. 23. “Cubs of this age need to stay with their mothers for at least one winter, or freeze up of the Western Hudson Bay to learn how to hunt and to have her protection from other bears. Wildlife experts agree cubs this young are not able to survive on their own.”
Despite the rescue efforts, some were critical of the zoo’s intervention. The facility fired back, noting:
“First and foremost please know that we at the Assiniboine Park Zoo were hoping more than anyone that we would NOT get a call this year about a cub needing our help. We believe these beautiful animals belong in the wild. We also believe when we receive a call from conservation experts from the Province of Manitoba saying an animal needs our help that it is our obligation to do so.”
The captive bears could eventually be moved to other accredited facilities to serves ambassadors for the species, the province and Churchill, known as the polar bear capital of the world.
Photos Assiniboine Park Zoo/Facebook