Polar Bear in Churchill Attack Relocated to Zoo

   09.30.13

Earlier this month we covered a story of a man in Churchill, Manitoba who managed to fend off a polar bear with the help of his cell phone. According to The Canadian Press, the bear involved in that attack has now been captured and will soon be transported to the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, which is a part of Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Garret Kolsun met his assailant in the northern town of Churchill as he was walking alone in the dark on September 7. The polar bear quickly became aggressive and cornered Kolsun as he attempted to enter a nearby bakery. After sustaining a bite on his hip and several scratches, Kolsun managed to distract the animal by shining the light of his cell phone in its face.

“It pawed at me,” he told CBC shortly after the incident. “It ripped my shirt a few times[…] I have scratches on my chest, some going down and a couple going sideways.”

Polar bears are common in Churchill, which prides itself as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” While the bears are a major draw for tourists, they can also be a danger to the unwary. Animals that prove to be a problem are transported to a nearby facility known as the “Polar Bear Jail.” Bears that attack humans are often destroyed, especially if the attack is unprovoked.

In light of the recent attack, officials had originally planned on euthanizing the Churchill polar bear.

“It was determined that he was otherwise going to have to be euthanized because he was such a danger,” said Margaret Redmond, president of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

Instead, a unique opportunity gave the bear a new home and a new chance at life. Not yet named, the Churchill bear will be the first wild bear to arrive at Winnipeg’s recently-opened bear conservation center. There it will join another polar bear that was raised in captivity. The public will be able to see the bear next June when the exhibit opens.

You can read our earlier coverage of the bear attack here.

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