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.

Inukshuk (male).  Born in the wild in 2002. Arrived 1 October 2012 from Toronto Zoo, Ontario.  He is Ganuk’s father.

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.”

Page source: Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat with special thanks to Michael Honeth and Dylan McCart


1. Lack of access to outside enclosures at night (minor).

More Information

You can view Cochrane’s live enclosure cameras here.

The two documents below are no longer up to date regarding personnel or the individual bears but may still be of interest:

Download the Habitat’s factsheet on the resident bears (pdf)

Download the Habitat’s factsheet on their facilities (pdf)

In late 2020 the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat Charity made the decision to withdraw from further negotiations with Cochrane Town Council on the transition of operations at the facility. They said “Regrettably, a number of actions recently taken by Town Council, including the dismissal of the Habitat’s highly respected Conservation Coordinator, has led us to conclude that Town Council is no longer aligned with the conservation vision advanced by the Charity.”  You can read the full text of the Charity’s statement here.

In 2019 things had looked far more hopeful as the following article shows: Polar Bear Habitat shifting focus as a research facility (15 May 2019 article).

You can take a video tour of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in the 2020 video below.