Embrace your animal nature at Assiniboine Park Zoo, home to more than 200 species and 2,000-plus individual residents. Come face to face with a menagerie of cuddly critters and exotic beasts - everything from lions, tigers, zebras and kangaroos to cold-climate mainstays like caribou, bison and polar bears.

Four young polar bears - males Storm and Hudson and females Aurora and Kaska - are the first inhabitants at the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, a world-class research facility and interpretive gallery that teaches visitors about Arctic ecosystems while helping orphaned cubs transition to new homes.

The Conservation Centre will be a main component of the Zoo's Journey to Churchill exhibit, a 10-acre showcase of northern wildlife and landscapes. The most comprehensive project of its kind in Canada, the exhibit will bring the wonders of the North to Winnipeg, allowing visitors to experience boreal forests and tundra coastlines, not to mention the breathtaking beauty of the aurora borealis. In addition to a growing family of polar bears, Journey to Churchill will be home to wolves, whooping cranes and seals. Already open is the kid-friendly Polar Playground, complete with ice caves, super-slides and a wall-sized icicle xylophone.

Heed the call of the jungle while surrounded by monkeys, ocelots and flamingoes at Toucan Ridge, a tropical oasis devoted to plant and animal life from Central and South America. Or set your heart aflutter with a tour of the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Gallery, a seasonal exhibit that pairs native species with vibrant perennials