- -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- - -- -

Art--Animals--Food--Links--Lists--Map--Movies & TV--Music--Nature--Places--Performances--Souvenirs--Structures--Timeline
Showing posts with label Polar Bear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Polar Bear. Show all posts

Monday 20 March 2017

Polar Bear Enrichment & Training

Conserving The Polar Bear

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Rd.
Date: March 2017
Website: www.torontozoo.com

  February 25th 2017 was International Polar Bear Day.  We attended the Toronto Zoo that day.  Specifically we attended a talk by the Torono Zoo's polar bear keepers and Dr. Martyn Obbard, a polar bear researcher.  Dr. Martyn Obbard talked about how the increasingly shorter season of sea ice is making life harder for the bears.  The bears rely on the sea ice to go out and hunt for seals.  Without the sea ice, the bears do not get enough to eat. Dr. Obbard worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and his research has helped us understand what we can do to help the bears.  Conservation of polar bears requires not only several Canadian provincial and territorial governments working together, but several countries as well.  Polar Bears can be found in Canada, Greenland, Norway, USA and Russia.

Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear Family.

  The zoo keepers also talked about their experience working with the polar bears.  The three most recent polar bear babies were all offspring of Inukshuk and Aurora.  Hudson and Humphrey just recently returned to the Toronto Zoo and Juno was leaving the week after International Polar Bear Day.  The keepers talked about enrichment and training of the bears.  One lucky person at the talk would win a chance to see a polar bear training session.  Guess who won?

  We attended the training session a few weeks later.  The training sessions make it easier for the keepers to administer medication, to give the bears a checkup and to move the bears around the exhibit.  Our training session was with Nikita.  The keeper used different hand signals and a whistle to ask the bear to perform a task.  Each success was rewarded with either a handful of meat or fish.  When the keeper made an open hand motion Nikita opened her mouth.  When the keeper tapped a wooden stick against the fence, Nikita would touch it with her closest hand.  When the keeper pointed to a target, Nikita would go over and touch her nose to the target.  The children that attended the training with us were very impressed with how well Nikita performed.  Finally, one big fish and the training was completed for the day.  Good work Nikita and good work to all of the people helping polar bears in the wild.

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our (almost complete) collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Tundra Trek)

Post # 168

Sunday 10 April 2016

Toronto Zoo Baby Boom

Panda Growth Chart.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: Mar 2016
Website:  www.torontozoo.com

  Lions and rhinos and bears!  Oh My!  The Toronto Zoo is currently in the middle of a baby boom.  During our latest visit to the zoo we were able to visit their eight newest arrivals.  There are 4 white lion cubs, 1 polar bear, 1 Indian rhino calf and 2 giant panda cubs all now on display for public viewing.

The White Lion Cub Club.

   The first to arrive were the four white lion cubs.  They were born in September 2015 and are all males.

White Lion Cub chews on a leaf.
 White Lion Cub.

  White lions have a gene mutation that causes them to have lighter hair, but they are not albinos.  The four cubs at the zoo are named Gus, Hank, Harrison and Oliver.  

White Lion Brothers.

  Like most wild animals they are growing rapidly and it will not be long until these babies are as big as their parents.

Getting Bigger Every Day.

    Below is a video of the boys playing and Mom keeping control while she still can.

Meet The First Giant Panda Cubs Born In Canada.

  On October 13, 2015 the Toronto Zoo welcomed the first giant panda cubs to ever be born in Canada.  There was one boy and one girl.  They were kept under special watch and 24 hour care as they grew bigger and bigger.  The public was waiting patiently and finally in March 2016 the panda babies were named and we were given a chance to see them in their nursery.

Jia Panpan.

  The male panda is named Jia Panpan which means Canadian hope.  He has round black fur around his eyes.

Jia Yueyue.

  The female panda is named Jia Yueyue which means Canadian joy.  She has black fur that points like a diamond towards her eyes.

Panda baby hiding behind a tree.Brother & Sister.

  While we were visiting, Jia Yueyue was asleep in a fenced off area.  It wasn't long until she woke up again.  This area might have contained her when she was a bit smaller, but now she was able to make her escape.

Panda baby sleeping.
To Freedom.

  Below is a video of the panda babies being fed, exploring their enclosure and playing together.

Juno the baby Polar Bear.

  On November 11, 2015 a little baby girl polar bear was born.  Her name is Juno and she has even been adopted into the Canadian Army and given the rank of private.  The Toronto Zoo has had polar bear babies before such as Humphrey and Hudson, but this is the first female that we can recall.

Juno looks around.
Juno's Pillow.
 Juno Gives A Look.

  There is something about her face and behaviour which makes it easy to determine that she is a girl.  We have seen her both outside as well as inside her little house playing with her toys.

Juno's House Full Of Toys.

Indian Rhino Baby.

  The last to arrive was a baby Indian rhino.  He was born in February 2016 and when we visited him he was only five weeks old.

Mom watches over her baby boy.

  He looked so small and fragile compared to his mother, but if he charged at you be sure to get out of the way as he already weighs over 200 pounds.

Indian Rhino Smile.

  At the time of our visit the rhino baby did not yet have a name.  Another thing it does not yet have is its horn.  A baby rhino is born without a horn, but it starts to grow right away.  That is one more thing for Mom to be thankful for as she nurses and cares for her baby..

Mom & Baby Rhino.

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Lion House) , Toronto Zoo (Giant Pandas) , Toronto Zoo (Tundra Trek) , Toronto Zoo (Indian Rhino)

Post # 106

Thursday 10 March 2016

Tundra Buggy Tour (Day Two)

Look at That Bear There.

Location: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Address: Churchill Wildlife Management Area
Date: Oct 2014
Website: www.everythingchurchill.com

  We were ready for the second day of our Tundra Buggy Tour.  You can read about Day One here.  Our group decided that the best course of action was to head towards where we had observed a bear digging yesterday.  Normally, we tried to travel along something that resembled a road.

A Tundra Buggy Road.

  Sometimes we had no choice but to take things off-road.  Part of the route we took seemed more like we were traveling along a stream than across the tundra. The buggy crept through the water towards our destination.

  Another Tundra Buggy was rolling along ahead of us when it suddenly stopped.  Over beside some bushes was a polar bear sleeping right out in the open.  He sort of woke up when our buggy stopped as well.  It was only to take a big yawn.

  It turns out that the buggy in front of us had stopped for more than just polar bear watching.  The day before we had been wondering what would happen if a buggy broke down or got stuck in the mud and rocks.  Turns out the answer would unfold right in front of us.  Luckily the broken buggy was on a stretch of road.  A pickup truck came by and pulled up next to the broken buggy.  One of our guides exited our buggy, took his rifle from its case and bravely strode down the road to stand guard while the repairs were completed.

Buggy Repair Churchill Style.

  Fortunately the bear was still as disinterested as ever. The repairs were completed and our guide returned to the safety of his tundra buggy.  The other buggy began to continue on its way.  This seemed to finally arouse the bear who decided it was time to take a walk across the tundra.  He walked around as we wondered if he would decide to come and check us out.  Once again we were rejected by the bear.

  We headed further along and reached the spot where a bear had been digging yesterday.  We looked along the water's edge and he was nowhere to be seen.  Perhaps he had moved on.  We went a little higher up onto a rocky plateau and then all of a sudden there he was.  He was busy chewing away on something in the grass.  It seems his digging the day before has netted him a bit of a feast.  One of our guides suggested it was most likely part of a whale, perhaps a beluga.  The bear chewed his dinner for some time and then suddenly turned his back on us.  We got the hint and our Tundra Buggy decided it was time to move on.

A Bear enjoys a bite of Beluga.
Polar Bear side profile.
 Bear Back.

  We had another great day out amongst the bears.  As we headed back we passed the buggy that had problems earlier. 

Glad you were here.

  They waved a wave that said they were all glad that our buggy drivers had come to their aid.  We waved a wave that said we were glad it didn't happen to us.  No one wanted to spend the night stuck out on the tundra.  Actually that's not true.  A night on the tundra does sound exciting, but only when it is properly planned for.

Days on the Tundra.

You can read about Day One here.

Map of Our World
Tundra Buggy Tour , Tundra Buggy Tour (Digging Bear)
Post # 100

Thursday 25 February 2016

Tundra Buggy Tour (Day One)

Lazy Bear Lodge Tundra Buggy.

Location: Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Address: Churchill Wildlife Management Area
Date: Oct 2014
Website: www.everythingchurchill.com

  Most people come to Churchill with hopes of seeing a polar bear, but as you walk around the town you hope that you will not have an encounter with one of these giant predators.  The best way to see the bears is from the safety of a Tundra Buggy as it crawls across the rocky terrain of northern Manitoba.  A Tundra Buggy looks sort of like two school buses welded together and then put up on some giant wheels from a construction vehicle.  We spent two days inside one of these buggies in search of some big white bears.

All Aboard the Lazy Bear Bus.

  We first had to travel from our lodge on red school buses.  The buses took us into the Churchill Wildlife Management Area which was just outside of town.

Churchill Wildlife Management Area.

  We then had to transfer directly from the bus into the safety of our Tundra Buggy under the watchful eye of our guide.  You never know when a bear may be nearby.

The Tundra towards Churchill.

  The first thing we learned is that polar bears can hide surprisingly well on the tundra.   You would think that on a terrain that is mostly grey rock, orange moss, and shallow water, that these white animals would pop right out.  In most cases they do, but if a polar bear lays flat it can hide behind even the shortest of bushes.

  A sleeping bear laying low.

  There are also many white rocks scattered across the tundra.  We had a fun time playing "Polar Bear or Rock".  Someone would shout out "Bear!" and all the binoculars and cameras would zoom in to inspect the area.  Coming to a conclusion proved rather difficult.  In one instance, after several minutes of observation,  our entire group had determined one white lump to be just a rock.  When we returned to that area later in the day we were surprised to see that the rock was walking around.

Polar Bear or Rock?

  So far we had only seen a few signs that the bears were there.  There were some tracks by the water's edge which were obviously made by some huge paws dragging across the sand.

The Bear is Near.

  In fact there were more signs that other Tundra Buggies had been roaming around than bears.  There were huge tracks where a Tundra Buggy had taken a wrong turn and its tires had sunk deep into the muddy terrain.  Our Tundra Buggy had also headed into the same area and then wisely decided against that route.  We wondered what would happen if a Tundra Buggy broke down or got stuck in the mud or rocks?  On the second day of our tour we would get our answer.

Tundra Tracks.

  After much searching we learned that traveling in a Tundra Buggy looking for polar bears is a slow process that requires patience.  A glimpse of white was spotted up on a rocky edge.  Just as quickly it disappeared again.  A helicopter flying overhead turned towards the area.  We held our cameras up over our heads as high as we could and fired away.   A bear lifted its head above the rocks and looked straight up at  the helicopter.  Then just as quickly it was gone.  Perhaps it had wandered off down the rocks or just put its head down to take a nap.  At this time of year polar bears are saving their energy before they face a long hard winter trying to survive out on the sea ice.  As the water begins to freeze, more and more bears come to the shoreline waiting to step out onto the ice.

Polar Bear vs Helicopter.
  We finally spotted an active polar bear out in the open, way over on the other side of the water.  Our guides let us know it may take about an hour to get over to where we could see him better and they could not guarantee the bear would still be there. We took our chances and after bumping and crawling along around to where the bear had been, we pulled up onto some rocks.

  Tundra Buggy On The Rocks.

  Our gamble had paid off as the bear was still there busily digging through whatever had washed up on the shore.  You could see the grooves from where the bear had been digging most likely for many hours, if not for days.

Can You Dig It?

  We spent some time admiring this bear at work and then it was time for our buggy to make the long trek back to our red school bus.  From there it was a drive back to our lodge for the night.  Tomorrow would be another day spent bouncing around the tundra in search of the bears and we could hardly wait.

You can read about Day Two here.

Map of Our World
Tundra Buggy Tour , Tundra Buggy Tour (Digging Bear)

Post # 98

Friday 20 February 2015

Humphrey the Polar Bear

Humphrey the Baby Polar Bear

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Road
Date: Feb 2015
Website:  www.torontozoo.com

  Humphrey the polar bear was born November 9th, 2013.  He was one of three cubs born that day and the only one to survive.  Unfortunately, his mother Aurora was not properly taking care of him.  As a result he had to be raised by the keepers at the Toronto Zoo.  The pictures and video are from when he was almost five months old. 

Humphrey in the water.

  Humphrey always entertained everyone at the zoo and he grew bigger and bigger.  At 1 year and 3 months old it is obvious that he is still just a cub.  We braved -40 degrees Celsius weather to visit Humphrey one last time before he moved to the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg.  He didn't seem to mind the cold as he took a nap with what looked like a big smile on his face.  Have a safe trip Humphrey.

Humphrey rests before his trip to Winnipeg.

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Tundra Trek) , Assiniboine Park Zoo (Journey To Churchill)

Post # 39