Piece of Manitoba tundra in Wisconsin zoo

Posted: June 8, 2015
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Retired Tundra Buggy becomes essential part of new Arctic Passage polar bear exhibit

Winnipeg - For decades, people have been coming to Northern Manitoba to experience wild polar bears, and now a piece of the Province’s history has been set in place to begin a new life in Madison, Wisconsin.

Frontiers North Adventures has partnered with the Madison’s Henry Vilas Zoo by providing an out-of-commission Tundra Buggy® to be part of the zoo’s new Arctic Passage polar bear exhibit. Tundra Buggy 5, also known as the Ice Maiden, which operated in Churchill from 1989 to 2008, has been refurbished and now plays an integral and interactive part in the new exhibit.

“Frontiers North Adventures is proud to have helped Buggy 5 find a new home at Henry Vilas Zoo, one of just 10 remaining free zoos in the North America. Her legacy will live on and help inspire a completely new generation of kids of all ages who may never have the opportunity to lock their gaze with a wild polar bear from a Tundra Buggy in Churchill,” said John Gunter, President and CEO at Frontiers North Adventures.

Tundra Buggy 5 helps Henry Vilas Zoo’s visitors imagine what it would be like to trundle along on the tundra in northern Manitoba and experience polar bears in their natural environment.

In late 1980s, Buggy 5 was an essential part of the growing Tundra Buggy fleet. By 2002 she was retired from active ‘touring’ duty and in her later years, before being decommissioned, housed scientists and researchers on the tundra and helped Frontiers North Adventures accomplish important education and conservation goals.

Frontiers North Adventures, proprietors of the world-famous Tundra Buggies, operates a fleet of 13 Buggies which are used to bring people from around the world face-to-face with polar bears. The Buggies safari on an established network of trails, created in the 1950s, minimizing negative impacts to the tundra while still being in the centre of a breathtaking landscape.

The long-awaited and much-anticipated 1.7 acre Arctic Passage exhibit, featuring polar bears, grizzly bears and seals is now open at Henry Vilas Zoo. 22,000 guests visited the zoo for the exhibit's opening weekend. It is home to twin 2.5 year old brother and sister polar bears, Sakari and Suka, part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums captive species breeding program. In addition to the polar bears, rescued orphaned grizzly bear sisters and the zoo's resident harbor seals have found homes in the brand new exhibit, complete with interactive features such as an underwater viewing stations for both polar bears and seals, a flowing stream the grizzly bears can fish out of, and of course Tundra Buggy 5, complete with rumble seat that the kids are really enjoying.