It may not look like much right now, but by 2014, the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be home to as many as six polar bears, four seals, eight musk ox, and many more arctic animals.
Media were given a sneak peek today of the $69-million exhibit that encompasses a state-of-the-art polar-bear enclosure, an interpretive centre, and showcasing many arctic animals.
The site is very much a construction zone, with only a few buildings resembling their final shape, while crews work on foundations and the filtration system that will help keep the multiple polar bear pools clean.
Some features of the 10-acre sprawling exhibit include three polar bear enclosures, a glass tunnel where polar bears and seals can swim over your head, and a model of the Churchill town site including an ATV and helicopter.
"A lot of people don’t realize how big of a project this is," said Rick Chopp, director of major projects for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy. "Nobody has done this to this scale."
The exhibit’s opening has been pushed back slightly from the end of 2013 to the beginning of 2014. This is because constructing a lot of the fake rock that will surround the enclosures and will be scattered throughout the site is difficult to complete in winter, Chopp said. However, the new Tundra Grill, located in the mock-Churchill town site, will open in early 2013, he added, allowing visitors to have their own look at the construction going on.