Most modern zoos and aquariums have come a long way from the concrete cages of the past, housing polar bears in well-designed exhibits that include rushing waterfalls, chilled pools stocked with fish, enormous swimming pools, and shallow streams. They also provide natural substrates like grass and mulch and gravel pits where bears can dig.
In addition, exhibits include:
- Shaded rest areas
- Elevated platforms for long views
- Social groupings appropriate to sex and age classes
These zoos also offer enrichment activities designed to encourage the expression of natural behaviors, provide cognitive challenges, and stimulate play. These activities are good for the bears—keeping them engaged and healthy. Positive reinforcement training provides opportunities for animals to participate in their own health care—allowing visual exams, eye drops, voluntary vaccination injections, and even blood sampling without anesthesia so zoo vets can monitor their health without unnecessary stress.
Quality zoos and aquariums also play a role in polar bear conservation by:
- Educating and inspiring the public to take action on climate change—through their websites, on-ground messaging, and community activities and lectures
- Providing homes for orphaned cubs
- Taking part in key research studies that would be impossible to conduct with wild bears, often through positive reinforcement training
- Helping to develop the next generation of conservation advocates through youth programs
PBI partners with a network of Arctic Ambassador Center zoos, aquariums, and museums. These centers take leadership roles in their communities to reduce carbon emissions. Learn about their accomplishments here.