The first phase of the newly recreated Boreal Discovery Centre has been developed, and Spirit Way Inc is in the progress of the final touches to turn this labour of love over to the Boreal Discovery Centre Board of Directors. Over $240,000 has been raised and spent towards a world class wolf habitat and education centre. Volunteers spent four years researching how to design and build the best wolf park by visiting sanctuaries in Minnesota, Idaho, and British Columbia, and consulting with wolf curators and landscape architects to utilize optimal ideas from each. Other wolf sanctuaries provided input into the final design for Thompson.

This exhibit, created over a 1 1/4 acre combination of disturbed and pristine boreal forest, is by far the most state-of-the-art facility amongst its type in Canada. The wolf habitat meets or exceeds international standards, as well as space per animal. It is a gigantic 52 times larger than the previous wolf enclosure in Thompson built in 1983! It includes earthen berms, two dens, a pond with waterfall, natural virgin forest, and a retirement zone for older wolves and high ground features to reduce stress in pack animals. Life expectancy of captive wolves that have been rescued and live in a natural space can exceed double their life span when roaming in the wild. The natural treed area in the park is as beautiful as any of the over 100 wolf parks and refuges in North America including the one at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. The solid and double fencing allows wolves to be unseen and undisturbed when they retreat into the forest. Yet, in winter, their curiosity will draw them close to the viewing windows with children peering from the inside.

The Boreal Discovery Board must follow strict Wildlife Branch regulations before wolves are eventually brought to Thompson. No animals can ever be taken from the wild, nor can rescued wolves ever be returned to the wild.

Compliments and praise have been received from architects and planners on this development. Support and accolades for the design have come from various sources:

– A CAZA director stated, it’s an “impressive project”.

Community Places provided $50,000 for this project.

– A senior UCN Executive made an unsolicited, personal $1000 donation.

– An independent wildlife film maker, who owns two rescued wolves, visited Thompson and said, “This is the best habitat space I have ever seen for wolves. I’d like my animals to retire here.

– UCN Elders toured the site in August of this year with Board directors and commented… “We did not expect to see an exhibit of this size for the wolves.” Actually seeing is believing.

Spirit Way Inc’s goal was to exceed current CAZA (Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums) standards, and President Marion Morberg is proud to say that they have achieved this. The goal is turn over the wolf habitat after the Wolf Viewing and Study Centre building is complete which is the next and last phase. An architectural concept has been prepared for a beautiful 2000 sq ft building that allows for viewing of wolves all year around. Interpretative displays in this education centre will enable students, families, and visitors to learn of the important value of this apex predator in a balanced eco-system. Outside experts have mentioned that Thompson and region can be an example to the world of “best practices in all things wolf” as human/wolf conflicts are rare in northern Manitoba.

The quality animal care standards that are being incorporated into the landscape will carry on into the next phases of development as the Boreal Discovery Board moves ahead with its ambitious plans for caribou, lynx, gray owls, eagles, and sturgeon, all species in the northern boreal forest. This facility will eventually provide strong educational programming that will stimulate all guests to value the boreal forest and the plants and animals that live therein. It will become a tremendous asset for Thompson over the next few years.

Stay tuned for the grand opening in the future, and they will love to show you their vision and other plans!