Have you seen the large tower near Tundra Grill and wondered what it is? The tower is a radar system that can be used to detect polar bears and help protect northern communities.

We are working with partners, Polar Bear International and SpotterGlobal, to help train the detection system. Assiniboine Park Zoo (APZ) is the ideal place to do this because as the system scans the Churchill Coast Exhibit, it can watch and detect more bears in a shorter time than it could if it was in the field for months. Working together with the bears at APZ, we can train the AI to know what a polar bear looks like and how they move. The detection system can then be used in the field to detect wild polar bears and alert communities.

Partnerships like this one are one of the exciting ways that we contribute to the conservation of polar bears. As a modern zoo, we are always looking for ways that the animals in our care can help animals in the wild. In this case, protecting people in “Polar Bear Country” by warning them that a polar bear is approaching will help them safely deter the bear.

The BearDar radar tower will be set up at Assiniboine Park Zoo from mid-May until mid-September 2024, when it will then be relocated to Churchill for additional training and testing.

Another way our bears are “beary” helpful!