Jungle Gym for Polar Bears

  • Submitted by:

    Karen Cummings


    Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat


    Cochrane, Ontario

  • Idea Created:

    October 9, 2012


    Large ($100K - 150K)


Polar Bears love to play.  They love to jump on things.  Sink things.  Bite things.  Bounce and roll on things.  Destroy things.  And if you’ve ever seen polar bears playing – well, let’s just say it’s highly entertaining. 

 But another thing about Polar Bears?  They get bored very easily.  Used to traversing miles of tundra in their natural environment, their only routine is change. 

The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat has been a refuge for rescued, aging or bears that need to be moved from other zoos because of their natural requirement for separation since 2004.  Two of our bears, Nanook and Bisitek happily lived their final days at the habitat, living longer than captive bears almost anywhere. 

Our zookeepers do their best to provide enrichment for the bears each and every day.  And they do a great job.  However, it’s extremely difficult to find items the bears can’t destroy within minutes, and even a harder job to purchase toys for the bears on a restricted budget.

What do you do for polar bears that love to play, but get bored very easily?  Build them a custom, polar bear tough jungle gym – that can be re-configured into many different shapes and sizes – that will continually change their landscape and rock their polar bear worlds.  As well, you install a camera security system with built in alerts so we can continually monitor the bears for safety. 

The Polar Jungle Gym and surveillance/camera system would not only be great for the bears … but great for guests.   The more viewing opportunities we give to our guests … the more they support and buy into our cause for education on saving polar bears, and the fight against global warming.   As well, it would give us more opportunity to research and monitor polar bear behaviours – finding out if the change in landscape would help reduce stress in captive polar bear populations. 

Cochrane is a small town.  At only 5,500 people, the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat is our number one tourism draw, filling our hotels, restaurants and providing an economic impact that the town depends on.    Students work at the habitat during the summer.  Community members volunteer to give tours, help our Zookeepers with enrichment and plan community festivals.  Polar bears aren’t just the town mascot … they’re the town brand. 

However, even if every member of the community gave $10.00 each, it would only equal $55,000.00.   Although the polar bear habitat is for everyone, the burden of improving and operating it often falls on the local tax payers.   I have received preliminary quotes on a custom polar bear jungle gym and security surveillance system of $150,000.00.  That’s a lot to ask of a town of 5,500. 

Being awarded the Aviva fund would benefit both our human community – and one very close to my heart – our Polar Bear Habitat family – Inukshuk, his son Ganuk – and all the future bears who need our help. 

 For more info;  Polar Bear Habitat   Facebook