Author Topic: RAAF helps fly polar bear to northern Ontario  (Read 1283 times)

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RAAF helps fly polar bear to northern Ontario
« on: October 07, 2015, 06:22:30 »
This from the Cochrane Times-Post, shared under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) ....
Quote
Moving a polar bear isn’t for the meek. It’s an extremely complicated, choreographed dance that involves a cast of many, with a plethora of logistical challenges. Henry the polar bear’s journey from Sea World, Australia to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat in Canada between October 6th and 7th is no different. As Henry’s comfort and safety were top priorities, the goal was to ship Henry by air as much as possible – but finding flights capable of transporting the approximately 700 lb toddler from Australia to Canada were extremely difficult. Specifically, a flight between Brisbane, Australia and Sydney.

Enter the Australian Air Force.

Upon the request of The Honourable Stuart Robert, MP and Assistant Minister of Defence in Australia, the Royal Australian Air Force stepped in to transport Henry from Brisbane to Sydney via their C-130 Hercules aircraft.

“The RAAF is saving Henry approximately 15 hours of transport time – reducing a trip that could have been up to 42 hours down to 27. That’s all the difference in the world to a 2 • year old polar bear,” said Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat Manager, Karen Cummings. “We are unbelievably grateful to them for their assistance.”

The RAAF were already planning some routine flights on that route, so Henry’s move isn’t additional to their planned operations. “Usually we transport cargo or Defence personnel, so today is a very special opportunity to put our training to a unique use. I’ve flown thousands of passengers, but Henry will certainly be the most interesting passenger I have ever flown,” Flight Lieutenant Brett said.

From Sydney, Henry will be transferred onto a Cathay Pacific flight, and after a brief stop in Hong Kong to re-fuel, Henry will be on his way to Vancouver, Canada.

As the Canadian port of entry, a Veterinarian from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will ensure all of Henry’s papers are in order, and that he is in good health to secure his status as a new Canadian polar bear. Once clear, Henry will be transferred on to a chartered 727 aircraft that will be standing by to fly him to Timmins, Ontario.

His last, final leg of the journey will be by truck and custom animal trailer to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.

“There is an unbelievable amount of coordination necessary for polar bears when they’re moved. Permits, blood tests, health

certificates, microchipping, specially designed crates for air travel, fork lifts and operators equipped specifically for the task, inspections – and the list goes on – making the number of players involved a small army. Added to that is most airlines’ flight routes include a fueling stop in the United States … as an animal designated as threatened in the United States, the US Marine Mammal Protection Act doesn’t allow for an aircraft to refuel on US soil with a polar bear on board,” said Cummings. “That made the planning even more difficult.”

For those who may like to virtually follow Henry’s journey, his approximate travel itinerary is as follows;

Oct. 6th (morning) – Henry is transferred to Australian Military Base near Brisbane for Hercules flight to Sydney.

Oct. 6th, 3:15 PM – Henry boards Cathay Pacific flight.

Oct.6th, 10:40 PM – Henry touches down in Hong Kong to refuel

Oct. 6th, 9:20 PM – Henry becomes a Canuck in Vancouver

Oct. 6th, 10:00 PM – Henry boards chartered 727 on route to Timmins

Oct. 7th, 4:45 AM – Henry meets new friends from the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat at the Timmins Airport

Oct. 7th, 6:30 AM – Henry arrives at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat

Note the itinerary above is by no means definite, as delays may always occur. As well, in order to ensure Henry’s comfort and security, the public will not have access to airports or tarmacs for viewing, and the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat will not be open to the public for Henry’s arrival. Henry will be in quarantine for the first 30 days, and although he will have access to an outdoor enclosure, viewing opportunities by the public will be limited.

Henry’s separation from his mother Liya at Sea World is part of his natural development. Mother polar bears wean their cubs just after 2 years of age, so the cub may begin a life on their own, and the mother has the opportunity to breed again.

Polar bear numbers in the wild are estimated at between 20,000 and 25,000 with over 60% of them located in Canada.
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