The fact that it’s Finland’s northernmost zoo is enough to make the Ranua Wildlife Park stand out. But the zoo’s real highlight is its polar bears, which happen to be the only ones who live in Finland.
The zoo is home to Venus and Manse, two polar bears who make a lovely couple. Over the years, the pair has had a few cubs—a feat that’s rare for polar bears in captivity.
Because of the high-quality living conditions, most of their cubs survive into adulthood and are sent to other zoos. Venus and Manse’s most recent cub was born in 2017. The bear family is part of the European Endangered Species Program (EEP), a breeding program for endangered animals kept in captivity.
While at Ranua Wildlife Park, you’ll want to be sure to see more than the polar bears. The zoo, which opened in 1983 as a “wilderness zoo,” is a mix between a wildlife sanctuary and a zoo. Its main goal is to keep a cross-section of all Finnish animals, especially the Arctic ones and endangered species, in their own natural environment.
There are about 50 species of wildlife in the park, ranging from beautiful snowy owls to a wolf pack and a variety of bears. The whole park is built into the forest. A long wooden bridge allows you to walk around and observe the animals.
Know Before You Go
The park is open all year with special activities in the summer. There are holiday apartments, a restaurant, a café, a wine shop, and a grocery store in the area.
There are no lights in the zoo, so if you arrive after sundown (which is around noon in the winter), you need to bring a torch or rent one from the ticket shop.