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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Toronto polar bear coming to Winnipeg

FACEBOOK / THE TORONTO ZOO  Juno the polar bear, as seen at the Toronto Zoo.
Juno the polar bear, as seen at the Toronto Zoo.
Juno, a 15-month-old female polar bear from the Toronto Zoo, is coming to Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo on March 1.

Juno will be coming to Winnipeg to socialize with other polar bears closer to her age and size.

Juno's arrival in Winnipeg will be like a visit from family; Juno is the younger sister of Hudson and Humphrey, who both lived in Assiniboine Park Zoo's Journey to Churchill exhibit before moving back to the Toronto Zoo last October. Both Hudson and Humphrey were born at the Toronto Zoo.

Juno was born at the Toronto Zoo on Nov. 11, 2015. She was the only survivor in a litter of two but was raised by zoo staff when her mother couldn’t produce milk.

Juno will be quarantined in Winnipeg for the standard 30 days and then live in the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre. She will eventually be introduced to Nanuq and Siku, two polar bear cubs already living there.

"We're excited because with the facility we have and the bears we have, we have the opportunity to provide Juno with some socialization with some bears her own age and similar size," said Johanna Soto, the Assiniboine Park Zoo's curator of animal care and behavioural husbandry.

"Because she was the only surviving cub in a litter of two, she was closely monitored and cared for by the Toronto staff in the early stages of her life and so didn't have that sibling. Being with our bears will help her learn how to communicate with bears, in body language and vocal signals."

Soto said interacting with other polar bears is important to their well-being to help give them the best possible life in captivity.

"What we have found with the bears we have now, and we've introduced different bears to each other, they really do appear to enjoy each other's company. We find that after the initial introduction, they give other signals while they're introducing themselves to each other, usually we find between 24 and 48 hours later, they're playing together."

Jeff Young, the supervisor of wildlife care — Americas at the Toronto Zoo, said Winnipeg was the perfect place for Juno because of Nanuq and Siku.

"We're just not in a position right now where we have a bear of comparable size to introduce her to and they (Assiniboine Park Zoo staff) have done numerous introductions with the bears they've received," Young said. "We're partners with them and we think it's a wonderful opportunity for Juno and Assiniboine (Zoo)."

--more at TheWinnipegFreePress.com

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