Just ahead of reopening to the public, complete with its highly touted Journey to Churchill exhibit, the Assiniboine Park Zoo unveiled its brand new entrance and gift shop on June 24.
"Inside this gate we are putting the finishing touches on Journey to Churchill, which will be the premier polar bear and northern species exhibit in the world, and we know how important it is to make a great first impression," Margaret Redmond, president and CEO of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy said in a news release. "On July 3, we will welcome visitors back to the Zoo through this beautiful new facility and would like to thank the City of Winnipeg for having the foresight and vision to help make this possible."
The $5.5-million dollar project, primarily funded by the City of Winnipeg, is part of the APC’s $200-million Imagine a Place campaign, which includes the redevelopment of the Assiniboine Park Zoo. The new entrance is located at 2595 Roblin Blvd.
The 11,410-square-foot, multi-purpose facility is located just east of the old entrance and features a welcoming plaza, visitor services centre, and a new gift shop named Wild Things Unique Gifts, which will be accessible to shoppers with or without Zoo admission.
The new entrance is also designed to accommodate the anticipated increase in visitors with four automated ticket kiosks. Visitors can also now purchase tickets in advance through a new online store at assiniboineparkzoo.ca
Horticultural elements outside the new facility will represent the natural prairie and wetland areas and forests of Manitoba. The new entrance will also feature energy efficient LED light fixtures and has been designed to take advantage of natural light through expansive windows.
"The zoo enters a bright new era with the opening of the beautiful and spacious new main gate to the zoo that will not only welcome visitors, but give them a sense of the gem of an experience that awaits them inside," Mayor Sam Katz said in the release.
Another zoo milestone was reached recently with the installation of a Bell 206B helicopter in the Churchill Town Site section of the Journey to Churchill exhibit, as helicopters are important tools in the north, being used to transport people to remote camps, survey areas and wildlife, and
relocate polar bears.
The section of the exhibit where the helicopter was installed is designed to resemble the town of Churchill, and additional installations include an inukshuk, a CN boxcar and tracks, and replicas of Churchill’s famous welcome sign and weather station.