Al Oeming: Timeline

Al Oeming: Timeline

1925

• Born April 9, 1925, Edmonton, AB
• Lifelong friends with Stu Hart of WWE fame; both interested in wrestling.

1943

• Enlists in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II, aboard the HMCS Nonsuch; posted to the South Pacific.

1946

• Honorably discharged post-war from Royal Canadian Navy.
• Moved with Hart to Boston to wrestle with Vince McMahon Sr. of WWE fame.

1948

• Purchased rights to Northwest Wrestling Alliance (Alberta and Saskatchewan)
• 50/50 partners with Hart
• Became known as the “Boy Promoter” and “Nature Boy”

1949

• Enrolls in Science at University of Alberta using education bursary from the Royal Canadian Navy

1953

• Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology

1954

• Completes Master’s degree in Zoology (on the Great Gray Owl)
• Embarks on a PhD to prove Swan Hills Grizzly Bear is a separate and distinct species, not just an offshoot of the Plains Grizzly

1956

• Sells interest in Northwest Wrestling to focus on importing of exotic species of animals from around the world to Alberta

1959

• Opens ‘Al Oeming’s Alberta Game Farm’ southeast of Sherwood Park on August 1
• Ultimately 166 species of mammals and birds & 3,200 head of stock
• Many animals grew two coats of fur after only four generations as they adapted to the colder climate

1963

1963-1969

• Zoological Department of China asks Al to assist in animal breeding programs and exchanges between Canada and China (1964)

• Visits Umfolozi Game Preserve in South Africa, obtaining 2 white rhinos for the Alberta Game Farm
breeding program (1964)

• Leads expeditions to Canadian Arctic to obtain Barren Ground Caribou, Canadian Muskox, Arctic Hare, Arctic Fox, Peary’s Caribou and Dall Sheep

• Filmed expeditions & helped create the following documentaries:
-The Land of the Black Bear (1963)
-Window on the Wilds; Galápagos Islands (1965)
-Wild Splendour (1965)

• First-born pair of Canadian Muskox at the Alberta Game Farm gifted by the Mayor of Edmonton to the Mayor of Moscow (1969)

• 6 Silver-Back Gorillas added to Alberta Game Farm breeding program (1969)

1970

• National Geographic releases an hour-long feature on Al entitled ‘Journey to the High Arctic’

1972

• Receives an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Alberta for research on adapting exotic species to the Alberta climate
• Receives a private performance from the great German/Russian Tenor, Ivan Rebroff, with his four-octave voice, upon concluding a sold out performance at Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium while on a Canada-wide tour

1976

• 6 Polar Bears added to Alberta Game Farm breeding program

1978

1978-1980

• CBC television creates a 13-episode documentary series profiling Oeming, entitled ‘Man of the North’

1980

• ‘Alberta Game Farm’ name changed to ‘Polar Park’ to focus on cold climate mammals only
• All other Polar Park’s exotic species sold off around the world
• 2 White Rhinoceros shipped to Harbin, China, Edmonton’s ‘Sister City’

1998

• Polar Park closed its doors to the public in the fall after 39 years in business

2014

• Al Oeming passes away on March 17th, 2014 while undergoing heart surgery, three weeks shy of his 89th birthday

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