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This article was published 26/1/2011 (4137 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Polar bears might be more accustomed to the frigid Manitoba winters than an Australian man, but the freezing cold holds "no worries" for Tim Sinclair-Smith.
The Assiniboine Park Conservancy recently announced that Sinclair-Smith has been appointed as its new director of zoological operations.
Sinclair-Smith succeeds the retired Dr. Gord Glover and is confident that his new leadership role will make him part of Assiniboine Park Zoo’s evolution that he believes will ultimately make the facility "world class."
For more than 20 years, Sinclair-Smith has worked in zoological facilities across the world and was most recently based at Calgary Zoo.
"The plans for the [zoo] are nothing short of spectacular and I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of a great team," Sinclair-Smith said. "Our goal is to move the Assiniboine Park Zoo to the international stage in the coming years."
APC’s long-term enhancement plans form part of an overall $200-million redevelopment of both the zoo and Assiniboine Park during the next decade or so.
Future visitors can expect to enjoy new attractions that include the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, a Journey to Churchill Polar Bear exhibit and a new conservatory.
Sinclair-Smith — whose parents were both zookeepers in his native Australia and who took his first zoo job at the age of seven — hasn’t taken long getting his hands dirty in his new role.
"There’s already lots of groundwork going on for the polar bear centre, as well as lots of other smaller projects," he said, noting that the polar bear is an important symbol for Manitobans.
"I think people beyond Winnipeg see Manitoba as the main hub for polar bear culture, especially when you consider the Churchill connection."
Eventually, the conservation centre will form part of an ambitious exhibition area, which is slated for completion in 2013 and will herald the return polar bears living at the zoo.
On the more the immediate horizon are three elements that will make up the Heart of the Park project. It was also recently announced that the Winnipeg Foundation has donated $1-million to the project.
The Duck Pond in Assiniboine Park recently reopened after being expanded to twice its original size and now includes a new family toboggan run next to the pond.
Also, the Children’s Nature & Adventure Playground will be unveiled this spring, while a multi-purpose family centre is set to open late this summer, according to APC’s COO Don Peterkin.
"These features are just a teaser for the local community, who use the park so frequently," Peterkin said.
"If you look at the big picture in ballpark terms, about $120 million will be spent on the zoo, $50 million on the conservatory and $20-million on park-wide amenities, such as upgraded sidewalks and roads."
"This area has been a gem for a hundred years, but it became a neglected gem, so we’re looking forward to sharing the improved version with the everybody," he added.
As for the winter weather, Sinclair-Smith’s professional path has equipped him well for the task ahead.
"I’ve worked in Edmonton, which was actually a little bit colder than here, so no worries at all," he said.
For detailed project information, visit www. assiniboinepark.ca.
Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7111.