Helping to Save an Iconic Canadian Species from Extinction

Posted on July 06

Calgary, AB – The Calgary Zoo announced earlier today that it’s commencing a massive project to redevelop the Canadian Wilds zone and deepen its focus on Canadian Arctic species conservation, including providing sanctuary to polar bears. 

“Thanks to the significant investment from the province of Alberta, and the generous donation from the Taylor Family Foundation, the Calgary Zoo’s redeveloped Canadian Wilds zone will become one of the most comprehensive and engaging experiences of iconic Canadian wildlife and habitats anywhere in North America,” said Dr. Clément Lanthier, President & CEO of the Calgary Zoo. “The Calgary Zoo is globally-recognized for our successful conservation work spanning decades to save vulnerable wildlife populations from extinction. We will be partnering with other conservation-focused organizations already doing important work to help save polar bears from extinction”.

The redeveloped Canadian Wilds will offer more engaging experiences for visitors and proactively use storytelling to inspire and educate visitors about the importance of biodiversity and the complex survival challenges facing iconic Canadian wildlife and wild spaces – and how they can help save these animals from extinction. 

As part of the Canadian Wilds Redevelopment project the Calgary Zoo plans to showcase its active role in native wildlife conservation of Canadian species across the revitalized 21-acre space. The redevelopment project will see larger, more complex habitats for some species, relocating other species to more suitable spaces and a new habitat for polar bears that need our help. Included in the first phase of the redevelopment is: polar bears, caribou, otters and whooping cranes. 

Climate change has created a survival crisis for polar bears.

Year after year, there’s less sea ice to roam, what ice is available to use as a platform for hunting seals breaks up a month earlier stranding polar bears on the land and leaving them to secure different food sources for longer. 

As sea ice melts, more and more polar bears can be found resting along Arctic coastlines. It’s in these areas where their powerful sense of smell attracts them to garbage, stored food, dog teams and animal carcasses — bringing them into greater conflict with people.

Polar bears are vulnerable to extinction and need our help – fast.  

The largest bear in the world and the Arctic’s top predator, polar bears are a powerful symbol of the strength and endurance of the Arctic. At least two thirds of the world’s polar bears live on Canadian territory.

Canadians have a special relationship with – and responsibility for – polar bears. 

By increasing Canada’s capacity to provide sanctuary to polar bears under human care in an exceptional habitat, the Calgary Zoo has both a significant opportunity and responsibility to leverage its animal care expertise to deepen visitor understanding of the crisis facing wildlife in the Canadian Arctic and the need for meaningful conservation action to save iconic Canadian species.

“As an internationally-recognized conservation charity, the Calgary Zoo is known for our excellence in habitat design and animal care,” said Jamie Dorgan, Director of Animal Care, Health and Welfare. “We are well suited to support the identified need to provide sanctuary to polar bears and support greater conservation messaging around the critical issues facing wildlife in Canada’s Arctic.”

Construction is set to begin on the zoo’s North American river otter habitat, with anticipated completion of the polar bear habitat being Fall 2023. In addition to the $15.5 million investment from the province and the $8.5 million donation from the Taylor Family Foundation, the zoo is actively fundraising for the current and future phases of the Canadian Wilds Redevelopment project. Future phases of the Canadian Wilds Redevelopment project may include: bison, prairie dogs and northern leopard frogs.

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For more information contact |
Alison Archambault
Director, Brand & Engagement
Phone: 403.232.7766 | 403.919.9482 | [email protected]

The Calgary Zoo is a globally recognized conservation organization that guides, innovates, and applies scientific solutions to restore some of the world’s most endangered species. Locally and globally we take action in the wild every day to yield powerful benefits for nature and for people.  Our over 1,000 employees and volunteers are passionate about inspiring people to take action to sustain wildlife and wild places, welcoming over 1.3 million guests annually. As visitors discover the rare and endangered species that we love and care for at our facilities, they are directly contributing through admission and on-grounds sales to a not-for-profit charitable conservation organization that works to fight extinction of plants and animals worldwide.