In many respects conservation and research are inseparable; this is especially true here at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Our research programs are aimed to support the betterment of wildlife in captivity or to assist conservation efforts in the wild. Zoos can provide an opportunity to conduct research that may not be possible in the wild (or “in the field” as biologists would say). Valuable knowledge about animals can be gained by observing how they behave or by collecting samples during routine veterinary care.

Information about some of our current projects.

researchers in the field

Polar bears

Polar Bear Denning Study

The World Wildlife Fund has supported the IPBCC with a $25,000 research grant for a unique study that aims to provide northern communities with scientific tools for monitoring polar bear denning sites within their traditional hunting areas. Scientific data on denning sites is being gathered and cross-referenced with traditional knowledge handed down through generations of observation and experience. Researchers are now in the process of completing a draft monitoring plan that each community can then tailor to their needs, depending on their geography and traditional practices. Using their community based monitoring plan, northerners will be able to better conserve and protect their local polar bears and other natural resources.

Polar Bears

Fine Scale Genetic Structure in Polar Bears

For a long time, polar bears have been thought of as solitary nomads.. While this is partially true, polar bears also have complex social structures especially in the southern regions of the species' range where polar bears spend several months onshore and in close proximity to one another. This onshore period can be advantageous for males as it provides a time to practice fighting and to gauge their competition when it comes time to fight (or not) for mates. It can be a dangerous time for females with cubs because the risk of infanticide by hungry adult male bears is higher. This research uses genetics and GPS locations to examine which bears are closer or farther away from other bears. We expect that male bears are randomly distributed along the coast whereas female bears may be found closer to other females to whom they are related.

This project is a collaboration between Assiniboine Park Zoo, Trent University, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. It has received funding from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) Arctic Biodiversity Initiative.

Research efforts made possible with support from
Calm Air