The Assiniboine Park Zoo hopes visitors to their Journey to Churchill exhibit not only fall in love with polar bears, but also learn a thing or two about how to protect polar bear's habitats.
The Zoo hosted International Polar Bear Day events over the weekend with the goal of teaching young children and their family members about polar bears, conservation and the importance of environmentally friendly practices that can help preserve sea ice in Northern Manitoba.
“Saving our sea ice, which is vital to the survival of Arctic species, is something we can all help to achieve,” Grant Furniss, Senior Director of Animal Care and Conservation said in a release. “Whether it’s turning the thermostat down or raising awareness, we hope to encourage visitors to learn about the impacts of climate change on polar bears and how they can contribute and make a difference."
The Zoo's Head of Conservation and Research, Stephen Petersen, said there was a number of interactive events held over the weekend to teach kids about these important issues.
"Our facility and zoos around the world have the opportunity not to terrify people, but to get people inspired by seeing these amazing creatures and learning more about them and their ecosystem and how they might be able to help them in their daily lives," Petersen said. "The zoo is a perfect way to say, 'This is why you should care.' Polar bears are amazing creatures. We have them here in Manitoba and they're at risk in these southern areas so we really need people to care."
Petersen says they are focusing on educating people on the Thermostat Challenge and textile recycling. He says the zoo has already begun to re-purpose old uniforms and he encourages people to look at the clothing they don't wear anymore and do the same.
"Wherever you are at there is no shortage of things you can do to help," Petersen said. "We just want to focus on people taking a little piece home with them and if all the visitors this weekend go home and do that, it will make an impact."
Petersen said International Polar Bear Day isn't technically until Tuesday, Feb. 27, but they wanted to host events on the weekend to get as many families as possible.
He says the centre is always open for people who want to learn about what they can do to help preserve the natural habitat of polar bears.