An 11-month-old female polar bear, orphaned after its mother was shot following the attack on two people in Churchill earlier this month, will find a new home at the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre (IPBCC) at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
The province said today the decision was made following a lengthy discussion between research scientists, the Town of Churchill, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship.
"Providing this cub a second chance at life in the IPBCC is the best possible outcome in this situation," said James Duncan, director, Wildlife Branch, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship in a statement.
The cub was found after its mother was shot during the search for a bear that attacked two people in Churchill Nov. 1.
Staff from the Assiniboine Park Zoo travelled to Churchill and will carefully supervise the polar bear cub's return to Winnipeg later this evening. The cub will undergo a standard 30-day quarantine period and will be kept isolated from the public and media during that time.
With the addition of this cub, the IPBCC is now home to four bears, two males and two females. The cub will join another female cub named Aurora by Grade 2 students at Duke of Marlborough School in Churchill. Aurora was discovered near the Churchill airport at the IPBCC late last month. Storm and Hudson are the other bears.
Storm, also named by students, was brought to the centre after he attacked a man in Churchill in September.
"We're fortunate to have a facility such as the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre that is able to offer a place of refuge to polar bears such as this one," said Dr. Brian Joseph, director, zoological operations, Assiniboine Park Zoo. "This bear, along with the others at the centre, can help us educate our visitors on climate change and polar bear conservation."
Zoocheck Canada has been critical of the province for recently lifting restrictions that had been in place for 30 years and which only allowed bears under the age of two to be put in zoos.
However, some scientists have applauded the change saying climate change is making it tougher for polar bears as the sea ice melts earlier in the spring and forms later in the fall, resulting in more frequent contact with people.