Bringing the Bears Back to Madison!
Passage, which broke ground in March of 2014, is the biggest renovation
the Henry Vilas Zoo has ever undertaken. It provides guests with
many exciting features, including special conservation and
sustainability components, our zoo's first indoor restaurant (The Glacier Grille), and
beautiful new exhibits for bears and seals.
About Arctic Passage
Anyone that has visited our zoo in the past few years, prior to construction, has noticed that our
bear grottos stood empty, and that this once bustling area of the zoo
had grown quiet. These enclosures were last updated in 1980, and quite
simply did not meet today's standards of care for these impressive
animals. This area needed to be updated to today's animal care
standards, and it was our vision to transform it so we could bring the bears back to Madison and continue our evolution as a zoo and conservation organization.
Arctic Passage features habitats that resemble the Arctic of the
polar bears, the Pacific Ocean of the harbor seals, and the great west
of the grizzly bears. By creating these environments in Madison, our zoo
can help protect the future of these animals and their habitats in the
wild by educating our guests about the great challenges these
magnificent animals face.
- Large naturalistic environments for polar bears, grizzly bears, and harbor seals
- Fun, interactive educational features for guests
- Sustainability features such as rainwater catchment and solar panels
- See the seals swim underwater, the polar bears sleep in their den, or a grizzly bear catch a fish from a stream!
This project, which has transformed over 1.7 acres of the Henry Vilas
Zoo, is essential to the future of our zoo.
Polar Bear Update
The Henry Vilas Zoo will welcome two and a half year-old polar
bear twins to the zoo's new Arctic Passage exhibit in time for its grand
opening this summer! We worked with the Association of Zoos and
Aquariums (AZA) Polar Bear Species Survival Plan (SSP) to bring the
polar bears - Suka and Sakari - to their new home in Arctic Passage.
After Suka and Sakari arrive, the Henry Vilas Zoo will house two of only
60 polar bears in AZA-accredited zoos in North America. Photo courtesy of Como Zoo. For more info see the full press release.
Grizzly Girls Update
Matching Gift Goal Reached! We're happy to report that thanks to the generosity of the
community, our goal of raising $100,000 by October 31st was reached!
September we announced who the first bears for the new Arctic Passage
will be: two orphaned grizzly bear sisters. To help us complete the
grizzly girls' new home, a generous donor challenged the community with a
matching gift. Photo courtesy of the Dakota Zoo. Here's the full story about the grizzly sisters.
Thank you to everyone who has donated to help make Arctic Passage a reality!
Donor Wall Gift Recognition
on all donor recognition and naming opportunities for Arctic Passage is
available by calling Friends of the Henry Vilas Zoo at (608) 258-9490.
All donations at the $250 level and above will also be recognized on our
Arctic Passage Donor Wall as spaces remain available. Donations
received after March 10th 2015 are not guaranteed to be included on the
donor wall by the opening of Arctic Passage. Donor wall recognition for "Small Water Drops" (donations of $250)
and "Halibut Helpers" (donations of $2,500-$9,999) are no longer available
but there are still some places remaining at the other giving levels.
For questions and assistance about the donor wall, please contact Shelly
Torkelson at email@example.com or (608)258-9490.