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Wildlife park reports banner year

Park urged to press province more for funding
November 3, 2015 5:04 P.M.
Clover the kermode bear is attracting more visitors to B.C. Wildlife Park. (BCWP)

Forget Kami the Trout. Clover the bear may be one of Kamloops’s biggest drawing cards these days.

B.C. Wildlife Park is experiencing its most successful year to date and is on pace to exceed 104,000 visitors, City council learned Tuesday.

Park general manager Glenn Grant painted a positive picture of the City-supported facility, which hasn’t always had such good news to deliver through its gradual evolution.

Two councillors suggested, though, that the park needs to persuade the provincial government to come to the funding table.

“When I found out that B.C. Wildlife Park is not funded by the province, I was quite astonished,” said Coun. Donovan Cavers. “I think we should get on their case with two members” representing Kamloops.

Grant said they have approached the province in the past, only to be told that no funds were available.

“We applied for $25,000 and they said no, but then they gave Vancouver Aquarium $25 million,” he said. “It was a little tough to swallow, but we will keep on asking.

He said part of the reason why they’ve had push a strong season was the weather.

“The introduction of Clover was also quite big this summer and was attracting bus tours from California.”

Bus tours have come on particularly strong with many of them stopping longer and more often.

“Those bus tours are actually coming here because of Clover.”

The lower Canadian dollar may have helped boost B.C. tourism in general this past summer with Destination B.C. also reporting an upsurge in visits to the province.

In a footnote to the discussion, Grant noted that the rare kermode bear will have company next year. When the park’s bears emerge from hibernation, the plan is to move a female in with Clover.

The park recently re-qualified for its accreditation by CAZA, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums. Corporate donors have noticed the park’s improvements and are more interested in sponsoring park projects, Grant noted.

A new five-year master plan has been approved by the park’s board of directors with a price tag of $3 million, much of which will be spent on improving existing facilities, Grant said.

The plan includes:

  • A new school classroom building to increase school programs.
  • A new interpretive nature trail network.
  • Upgrading wildlife habitat, roadways and pathways, public rest areas as well as the playground and splash park.
  • Finishing the bear interpretive centre.

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