Wolves in Canadian Zoo Dig Escape Tunnel, Visit Polar Bears

Wolves in the Journey to Churchill exhibit on opening day.  Photo source: winnipegfreepress.com.

Wolves in the Journey to Churchill exhibit on opening day. Photo source: Mike Deal, winnipegfreepress.com.

The “Journey to Churchill” exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, closed five days after it opened, after a pack of wolves housed in one side of the exhibit dug under a fence separating them from the polar bears on the other side.  The exhibit was originally designed to house polar bears on both sides, but a decision was made six weeks prior to opening to house wolves on one side.

The five wolves were found in the morning of Tuesday, July 8, wandering the enclosure housing female polar bears while the bears, Aurora and Kaska, slept peacefully in the corner.  At no time were any animals outside the exhibit, which is surrounded by a 10-foot concrete wall which also extends into the ground.

Wolves in the Journey to Churchill exhibit.  Image source: winnipeg.ctvnews.ca.

Wolves in the Journey to Churchill exhibit. Image source: winnipeg.ctvnews.ca.

The fence under which the wolves dug has been repaired with concrete and both wolves and bears were back on display July 10.

In a statement issued Thursday, provincial officials noted that the “Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship’s Wildlife Branch issues permits to possess wildlife for educational purposes and the permits include conditions that the zoo meet or exceed CAZA (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) standards for displaying species native to Manitoba.

“The Assiniboine Park Zoo holds a valid ‘zoological’ possession permit to be able to possess wolves and other species. They also have a separate permit to possess the polar bears as separate legislation oversees the possession of these animals.”

The province reported that its wildlife branch meets with zoo officials regularly and conducts regular inspections, including visits when exhibits are modified.

Original article is available here.

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