HENRY, the two-year-old Sea World polar bear, today met with Air Force pilots and crew, as he gets ready for his big adventure to the Cochrane Polar Habitat in Canada.
Flying from the Gold Coast to Sydney in a Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules aircraft tomorrow, Henry’s relocation to the Habitat in Ontario, is part of conservation efforts to support polar bear breeding following the decline of the wild population.
Hercules pilot, Flight Lieutenant Conan Brett, said that is was a fantastic opportunity to be able to combine routine flying operations with such a special event as relocating Henry.
ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT
“It is a great honour for the RAAF to be able to assist Henry and contribute to the polar bear breeding program,” said Flight Lieutenant Brett.
“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.”
As a Logistics Officer, Flying Officer Sarah Fraser’s duty is to ensure that all passengers and cargo are loaded onto the aircraft safely.
“We have some very special cargo indeed! Ensuring Henry’s safety on the flight will be a new experience and I am very excited,” Flying Officer Fraser said
Sea World’s Director of Marine Sciences, Trevor Long said it was only fitting for the RAAF team to visit Sea World to meet Henry before they fly out to Sydney.
“It is a wonderful opportunity that we have been able to align Henry’s trip to Sydney with a RAAF routine flying operation. The flight is sure to be an enriching experience for Henry as well as the air crew, so we thank them for their assistance,” Mr Long said.
“From Sydney, Henry will then continue on his journey to the Cochrane facility. Sea World staff will care for and monitor Henry during his travels with the experienced team successfully transporting a number of Polar Bears around the world using the same method.
“We have chosen the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat as they share the same dedication and standards as Sea World to the conservation, care and well-being of Polar bears and is the perfect place for Henry to continue his development.”
The request for assistance with the flight was organised through the local MP, Stuart Robert, during his time as Assistant Minister for Defence.
“I never thought I’d have to call the Chief of Air Force about transporting a polar bear.” Mr Robert said.
“Sea World is a world-class tourist attraction and an icon of the Gold Coast. As a Federal Member of Parliament representing our city, I’m proud to have played a role in helping Henry fly to Sydney.
“On behalf of all those who love Henry, I would like to thank the Royal Australian Air Force for all the support they have provided to him and I hope he enjoys his time on board the Hercules.”
The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat is the only bear facility in the world dedicated solely to Polar bears and features exceptional animal care standards, educational programs, research partnerships and is an internationally respected centre. Despite moving to the Cochrane facility, Henry will remain a part of Sea World’s Polar bear population with the Polar bear team continuing to have a role in his ongoing care.