To make a significant contribution to the sustainability of polar bears, using exceptional care standards, engagement through education and targeted conservation efforts
Who we are and what we do
Located in Cochrane, Ontario, we are approximately eight hours north of Toronto and only four hours south of the James Bay - home to the Southernmost population of polar bears. With just over 24 acres of natural, sub-arctic terrain and boreal forest, the bears in our care are free to live their lives as they choose.
By focusing our efforts on only polar bears, we can dedicate our resources and knowledge to their individual welfare needs. We do not partake in captive breeding, rather we focus our efforts on increasing welfare standards and participating in conservation projects, which help us to gain a greater understanding of their species. To date, The Polar Bear Habitat has been involved in twelve studies in collaboration with universities and research organizations.
The Polar Bear Habitat functions as a rescue and rehabilitation center for polar bears in need. Over the past 18 years we have provided sanctuary for nine polar bears, each of whom arrived with their own unique history, personality, and care requirements. It is then our duty to rehabilitate these bears’ mental and physical welfare. We do this by providing them with a nutritionally complete diet, space and freedom to exhibit natural behaviors and positive reinforcement to build trusting bonds between each bear and their care team.
Polar bears are the only species of bear that are obligate carnivores and learn to hunt their main preys, seals, by observing their mothers' hunting techniques in the wild. As a result of this, any bears born into human care or rescued from the wild at a young age do not possess the required skills to survive on their own. Therefore, the bears in our care will stay with us for the duration of their lives.
We support the mental and physical needs of our bears through a range of behavioural and environmental enrichment activities. Each bear receives a positive reinforcement based behavioural training and veterinary care program, daily enrichment items and specialized diet, all designed to meet their individual needs and preferences.
In addition to providing education to the public, The Habitat regularly hosts conservation organizations and researchers who are looking to learn more about polar bears.
In this video, you can see Inukshuk eating a sample of seaweed collected from the Hudson Bay. For more information, please check out the conservation page for more information.
As a CAZA accredited facility, we strive to provide the highest standard of care for our bears, while doing our part in the conservation of their species. We offer daily educational presentations where visitors can learn about the polar bear species, as well as the work being carried out at the Habitat. The Viewers Building, which offers an underwater view of the Arctic enclosure pool, features a variety of educational displays, suitable for all ages.