Friday, July 15, 2011

Spare Polar Bear Needed

With all of the news stories about animals in need of homes, it seems strange to hear about a facility with space that needs filling. The Toronto Star reports that the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in northern Ontario has closed indefinitely due to the fact that they simply cannot find a polar bear. The habitat’s two most recent occupants, Bisitek and Nanook, both passed away recently from complications due to old age. Nanook died this past March at the near-record age of 30, leaving the habitat vacant for the first time.

The facility, which opened in 2004, is unique in that it has a wading pool where visitors can actually swim with the polar bears, separated by only a sheet of bulletproof glass.

Aurora, a former temporary resident, swims up to the glass.
Photo via the Toronto Star courtesy of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.
Due to the severe economic impact a permanent closing of the state-of-the-art habitat could have on the small community, city officials are actively seeking another polar bear in need of a home. Bisitek and Nanook were both former zoo residents who came to the Cochrane habitat to live out their golden years, while other bears have been housed there on loan from the Toronto Zoo for short periods of time.

Polar bears are threatened in the wild, so obviously any potential resident would have to be captive-born or unable to be released into the wild. City officials are hopeful that a two year old cub born in a Quebec zoo may be on his way to Cochrane in the fall, but nothing has been made official.

More about the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.

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