Quebec City, Monday, November 25, 2019 – The Aquarium du Québec and the Toronto Zoo are excited to announce a new collaboration to advance scientific research on walruses. In addition, both facilities will continue advancing polar bear research that will continue to support conservation efforts for these culturally and ecologically important animals.
As a result of this partnership, the Aquarium du Québec will be receiving two male polar bears from the Toronto Zoo in early 2020 and Toronto Zoo will be receiving a female polar bear and two walruses from the Aquarium du Québec.
“We are extremely proud to have the Toronto Zoo as a key conservation and research partner,” added the Aquarium's director, Elizabeth Tessier. As there are very few research studies on walruses, this collaboration will have a significant impact on this vulnerable and iconic Arctic species. To further support this conservation initiative, the Aquarium du Québec will be developing a master plan specific to supporting the recovery of wild walrus populations. Walruses have been designated a Vulnerable species and there are very few published scientific studies on this important marine mammal.
“The Toronto Zoo is honoured to be working on collaborative research projects with multiple accredited zoos and partner organizations to help better understand walrus and polar bear reproductive biology, nutrition and behaviour,” said Dolf DeJong, Toronto Zoo’s Chief Executive Officer. “This scientific research provides valuable information to support walrus and polar bear education, research and conservation efforts both at the Zoo and in the wild and we look forward to contributing to new and critical research to help their wild counterparts,” he added.
The partners include leading conservation organizations such as Polar Bears International (PBI), Parks Canada, the North American Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP), Acres for the Atmosphere and Walrus Conservation Consortium (WCC).
As part of this collaboration, Lakina and Balzak, walruses aged three years, will be returning to the Aquarium du Québec in November. The team at the Aquarium du Québec would like to thank the Vancouver Aquarium who helped ensure the healthy development and proper care of Lakina and Balzak over the past two years.
Lakina along with her mother, 16-year-old Arnaliaq, will then take up residence at the Toronto Zoo in 2020 once modifications to the current polar bear habitat are complete. Balzak will share the habitat at the Aquarium du Québec with his father, Boris. This change will ensure better reproductive management and allow for a study of the maternal bond that exists within the species.
The renovations being completed on the Aquarium du Québec's polar bear habitat are progressing as planned and new developments are underway. Two young male polar bears from the Toronto Zoo will move to Québec to join 20 year old Eddy in the Aquarium's new habitat once completed. The female bear Taïga will then be joining three other females at the Toronto Zoo.
Toronto’s two male polar bears, named Hudson and Humphrey are brothers who were born at the Toronto Zoo. They are eight and six years old, respectively, and weigh 487 and 385 kilograms.
The new polar bear habitat at the Aquarium will double the existing square footage and contain improved facilities for training, healthcare and animal husbandry. In addition, it will showcase the water features and present a complete topographic redevelopment that will provide visitors with access to a better viewpoint in a more natural setting. The renovations will also feature interpretation panels, augmented reality and new observation shelters, all at the cutting edge of industry standards and meeting the highest standards for animal well-being to ensure a unique and memorable experience for visitors.
About the Toronto Zoo
The mission of the Toronto Zoo is to be a living centre for education and science, committed to providing compelling guest experiences and inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats. The zoo is a member of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
About the Aquarium du Québec
The Aquarium du Québec is an institution dedicated to showcasing and conserving animal species and their environment, spreading knowledge related to them, and understanding the connections that unite us. It offers visitors an enriching, entertaining experience backed by the excellence and quality of its customer service. The Aquarium is also a member of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA).
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