Polar Bear Habitat shifting focus as a research facility (15 May 2019 article) (opens in new window)
Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat
Location: Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat
Address: 1 Drury Park Road, Cochrane, ON P0L 1C0, Canada
Telephone: +1 705 272 2327
Exhibit: The entire facility is dedicated to polar bears
Ganuk (male). Born 30 November 2009 in Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Félicien, Quebec. Arrived 18 June 2012 from Aquarium du Quebec. Son of Innukshuk.
Henry (male). Born 09 May 2013 at Sea World, Gold Coast, Australia. Arrived from Gold Coast 7 October 2015.
Taiga (female) (deceased). Born 30 November 2009 in Zoo Sauvage de Saint-Félicien, Quebec. Temporarily at Cochrane whilst the facility at Aquarium du Quebec was modernised and enlarged. Arrived 27 February 2019. Taiga died suddenly on 21 January 2020.
The Cochrane Habitat was founded as an orphanage for polar bear cubs rescued from the wild and opened in 2004. The Habitat has a total area of 110,000 square metres (27 acres) on a site of 70 acres of sub-arctic boreal forest. The five enclosures (see below) cover a total area of 97,853 square metres (24.2 acres). This makes it the largest facility in the world dedicated to polar bears.
Cochrane focuses exclusively on polar bears and has expert staff and state of the art facilities. It takes in bears which cannot return to the wild; typically from zoos retiring “their” bears to a more natural environment. It does not breed bears.
There are five enclosures each surrounded by 5 metre (17 foot) electric fence with fenced observational corridors around the perimeters. The enclosures are equipped with live-streaming web cams. Arctic, Baffin and Chukchi are connected to Holding Facility 1.
The Arctic Enclosure is 5,747 square metres (1.42 acres) and contains a swimming pool for the bears, adjacent to the Viewing Centre.
The Baffin Enclosure is 2,064 square metes (0.51 of an acre) and contains a small recessed pool for the bears.
The Chukchi Enclosure is 1,780 square metres (0.44 of an acre). A, B and C are each 4,000 square metres (1 acre) and the bears can choose their preferred enclosure.
The Davis (lake) is the largest at 85,227 square metres (21 acres) and includes a spring-fed ten acre lake which freezes in winter. the lake contains perch and trout and has a maximum depth of around 22 metres (72 feet). This enclosure provides sea-like conditions and a large area for the bears to roam.
The Greenland Enclosure is 3,035 square metres (0.75 of an acre) and is forested. It is connected to Holding Facility 2.
Holding Facility 1 comprises five private rooms for the bears, a sampling room and an office. It is air conditioned and has running water and straw beds. Bears have access at all times and are presently locked in overnight pending the provision of night security.
Holding Facility 2 has two private rooms for bears.
There is a refrigerated food container, hay / straw shed and a workshop.
In addition to the above there are a public Welcome Centre and Viewing Centre.
The Habitat’s website includes the following statement:
“We are here for the bears. We know the best place for polar bears is their natural environment in the wild, but we are committed to raising the standard of care for the bears that could not survive there. If polar bears have to be in human care, our staff and supporters seek to give them the best life possible, on their terms. Knowing we are learning as much as we can, while actively improving their lives, compels our passionate mission.”
1. Lack of access to outside enclosures at night (minor).
You can watch Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat’s “Year in Review 2018/19” video below.