Henry the polar bear – the first to be born in Australia in almost 30 years – is set to arrive in his father’s country in early October, Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat has revealed.
Born to Canadian polar bear Nelson and Australian mother Liya, Henry is just over two years old and weighs 700 lbs. Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat Manager Karen Cummings describes Henry as a big, goofy and affable toddler, which will be a perfect fit for the world’s only polar bear exclusive facility in the world.
Henry will be joining sub-adult male resident, Ganuk, at the facility. Ganuk is 5 and half years old and just over 900 lbs. “We’re over the moon about Henry coming. He’s just what our facility needs – a new playful, trouble maker.” said Manager, Karen Cummings.
Trevor Long, Director of Marine Sciences, revealed that Henry’s father Nelson was sent to Australia after being orphaned in Canada as a gesture of friendship and as an ambassador of education and conservation. “Canada and Australia have a long history of cooperation, so we just think the best place for Henry to go would be to his father’s home country,” he added.
Henry is being pegged as a perfect example of how conservation efforts can benefit polar bears – something that will be of greater importance if climate change continues to wreak havoc in the Arctic and the Antarctic.
Once in Canada, Henry will be held in quarantine for a period of 30 days during which he will be cared for and monitored in his enclosure giving him time to acquaint himself with the facility as well as the country’s climate.
One of Henry’s Australian keepers will also be join him helping the local staff at the facility and Henry to ease into his new home.
The Cochrane facility is currently being expanded and one of the main additions to the facility is going to be a natural lake as an enclosure. Facility administrators are expecting the expansion to finish by end of October this year and once done, the location will have the most space (6 hectares) dedicated to polar bears in human care.
“We chose this facility because we believe Henry will have the best life there. Their commitment to polar bears – and the highest standard of their care is clearly apparent by their expansion plans … and by their great team of staff and advisors”, said Long.
“We know Sea World did a fantastic job of caring for Henry’s entire family … I mean – you just have to look at the size of him,” said Cummings. “We can only imagine how difficult it will be for the staff, and the people of Australia who are so dedicated to him to say goodbye – and we don’t take that lightly. We are honoured to be chosen as Henry’s new home and want to tell Australians we will truly love and protect him. And, of course … we’re putting out the invitation to come and visit.”