Polar bear


Taylor Family Foundation’s Transformative $11.5 Million Dollar Gift Helps Secure a Future for an Arctic Icon

September 26, 2023 | 3 minute read

27 SEPTEMBER 2023 (Calgary, AB) – A generous gift from one of Calgary’s most philanthropic families has played a pivotal role in securing the future of one of Canada’s most iconic species – polar bears.

The Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo announced today that the Taylor Family Foundation has made an awe-inspiring donation of a further $3 million (marking an incredible total gift of $11.5 million) to be directed toward the development of the new two-acre polar bear habitat. The Taylor family’s unwavering commitment to wildlife conservation and love for animals, particularly polar bears, will be honored with the naming of the new habitat as the ‘Taylor Family Foundation Polar Bear Sanctuary.’

The polar bear is a species that is very close to my family’s heart,” said Don Taylor. “Helping to secure a future for polar bears, and other arctic species in Canada, is also securing a future for the people that call this beautiful country home. In the face of environmental uncertainty in the northern reaches of our nation, we feel compelled to contribute our support to this incredible project and this magnificent species that needs our help.”

The Canadian Wilds zone will reopen on December 1, 2023, as ‘Wild Canada’ – a newly redeveloped 21-acre space aimed at exciting and empowering visitors to take action in support of some of the nation’s most beloved and at-risk species. The polar bear habitat will feature expansive tree-filled grassy meadows, a five-meter deep plunge pool, a wading stream, and shallow pool, a series of dens, and natural rock fixtures aimed at encouraging the expression of natural behaviours of its resident polar bears – six-year-old ‘Baffin’ and seven-year-old ‘Siku’. Visitors to the Taylor Family Foundation Polar Bear Sanctuary will have five completely unique viewing opportunities into this expansive space.

The choices we make today have a significant impact on the well-being of future generations of polar bears and people, “ said Jamie Dorgan, Chief Operating Officer at the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo. “We are internationally recognized for our excellence in habitat design. This, combined with a climate that is similar to what the bears would experience in their native range for much of the year, makes us well-suited to provide a fantastic home for Baffin and Siku.”

The Canadian Wilds zone of the zoo has been educating visitors and future conservationists for over 40 years. Located on a sacred spot known to the Blackfoot people as ‘Mohkinstsis’, the reimagined zone will embody the rich history and narratives intertwined with the land. Through collaborations with the Blackfoot people and other Indigenous communities, the new immersive experiences aim to forge a profound bond between people, wildlife, and the land we call home. Beyond enhancing the storytelling, this ambitious endeavor will also offer expansive and intricate habitats for many of the zoo’s animal residents.

This redevelopment of this iconic zoo destination would not have been possible without the generous support of valued donors, funders, and government partners. In addition to the Taylor Family Foundation, the Wilder Institute/Calgary Zoo would like to thank the Brawn Family Foundation, the Government of Canada – Canadian Heritage and Prairies Economic Development Canada, the Province of Alberta, the City of Calgary, along with many other donors for their generous support of this massive undertaking.

Wild Canada is set to reopen on December 1, 2023, welcoming visitors to immerse themselves in the wonder, right alongside the magnificent wildlife that calls Canada home. For more information, go to www.calgaryzoo.com/wildcanada.

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For more information contact:
Alison Archambault
Director, Brand & Engagement
(403) 232-7766 | (403) 919-9482 | MediaRelations@CalgaryZoo.com