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Polar Bear Exhibits

Discussion in 'United States' started by snowleopard, 30 Oct 2014.

  1. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Out of curiosity I spent some time analyzing polar bear exhibits in American zoos and came up with a grand total of 31 zoos with bears. I included a couple of places that have new polar bear exhibits opening very soon and 94% of the exhibits have underwater viewing.

    Did I miss any?

    U.S. zoos with polar bear underwater viewing = 29

    San Diego
    Saint Louis
    Omaha
    Columbus
    North Carolina
    Denver
    Point Defiance
    Detroit
    Brookfield
    Buffalo
    Alaska
    Henry Vilas
    Seneca Park
    Indianapolis
    Kansas City
    Oregon
    Memphis
    Cincinnati
    Toledo
    Philadelphia
    Maryland
    Louisville
    Hogle
    Lincoln Park
    Pittsburgh
    Rio Grande
    Milwaukee County
    Como Park
    San Diego SeaWorld

    U.S. zoos without underwater viewing = 2

    Bronx (arguably the zoo's most outdated exhibit)
    San Francisco (another outdated exhibit; elderly bears that are 32 and 34 years of age)
     
    Last edited: 30 Oct 2014
  2. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    Umm according to the May 2013 studbook there are 42 zoos. Perhaps a few are closed right now and the bears have died off but I'm only going to be off by a little... Maybe Canadian Zoos were counted... I don't remember but even then the they will only add 4 open exhibits Toronto, Zoo Sauvage de St. Felicine, Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat and Aquarium Du Quebec. Assiniboine Park and Zoo is the most recently opened the 5th. And I think I left off two Mexican zoos but I couldn't guess what.

    Central Park (if Gus is still alive)
    Cleveland (Aurora was their only one)

    You can remove Orlando. I believe Johnny died recently. And I think Reid Park had to be deleted from my list when theirs died.

    The number of exhibits has dropped by half since 1995 and from 200 bears to about 78. There have been some deaths but in the last year Canada added 6 bears (5 wild rescues and one birth). Ignoring Canada and Mexico, to replace losses and fill new exhibits there will need to be a massive explosion in births and imports. The 4 cubs in 2012 and none in 2013 wont cut it. Not even close.
     
  3. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I removed Orlando SeaWorld (currently without bears). Reid Park, Central Park, Cleveland and Erie I never did include as all of those zoos no longer have polar bears. It seems that the total of 31 American zoos with polar bears is fairly accurate but the long-term sustainability is definitely questionable.
     
  4. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    The US population would do so much better if they were allowed to import Canadian bears. There is enormous breeding potential in Canada and there seems to be a current abundance of orphans and sub adult problem bears that American zoos would probably love to house. It is unfortunate that the population is being allowed to collapse, through no fault of their SSP or the AZA. They are screwed by federal regulations.
     
  5. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

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    Can you confirm my impression that polar bears swim in such exhibits mostly when specially enticed with food? Otherwise they prefer to wade in shallow water or stay on land.
     
  6. blospz

    blospz Well-Known Member

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    I think it depends on the bear's personality, age, and sometimes temperature. I've seen more juvenile bears swim in the water, but on occasion, maybe to high temperatures, some of the older bears. I think I've seen more times polar bears in the water on their own over being enticed by food.
     
  7. blospz

    blospz Well-Known Member

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    I think you got all the exhibits, snowleopard. If I was to do a minor correction it be that the temporary Buffalo Zoo polar exhibit does not have underwater viewing. However, I am sure you are referring to their future exhibit, which will have underwater viewing. Here's a time frame of future polar bear exhibits being completed:

    Future Polar Bear Exhibits:
    • North Carolina Zoo (OPENED: October 23, 2014)
    • Buffalo Zoo (Fall 2015)
    • Saint Louis Zoo (Spring/Summer ? 2015)
    • Henry Vilas Zoo (2015)
    • Lincoln Park Zoo (2016)
    • Alaska Zoo (2017)
    • Point Defiance Zoo (?)
     
  8. blospz

    blospz Well-Known Member

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    I think it's also interesting to see which of these exhibits have some type of natural substrate in the land area. I'll compile a list, and please someone correct me if I'm wrong.

    16 with Natural Substrate (Partial Area):
    San Diego
    Saint Louis
    Columbus
    North Carolina (newer section)
    Detroit
    Brookfield
    Buffalo (temporary and upcoming)
    Henry Vilas ?
    Kansas City (very partial)
    Philadelphia
    Maryland
    Louisville
    Hogle ?
    Lincoln Park (future I'd assume)
    Como Park
    San Francisco


    15 Concrete/Man Made Material for Land:
    Omaha
    Denver
    Point Defiance
    Alaska
    Seneca Park
    Indianapolis
    Oregon
    Memphis
    Cincinnati
    Toledo
    Pittsburgh
    Rio Grande
    Milwaukee County
    San Diego Sea World
    Bronx
     
  9. Pleistohorse

    Pleistohorse Well-Known Member

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    When completed, the Alaska Zoo's exhibit will include natural substrate. However, I'm not entirely sure that part of the exhibit will be "on-view".

    In my memory Roger Williams Park Zoo, Stone Zoo, San Antonio Zoo, and the Science Center in Worcester Massachusetts all exhibited Polar Bears as recently as 1989.
     
    Last edited: 30 Oct 2014
  10. Gulo gulo

    Gulo gulo Well-Known Member

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    Stone Zoo had Major until he was euthanized in 2000. Ecotarium had Majors daughter Kenda until 2011. Her mother and Majors mate, Minor, died in 2001, I think? Major and Minor only lived together to breed briefly resulting in Kenda. Minor and Kenda lived their lives in Worcester, Major in Stoneham. Both exhibits were concrete and moated. Ecotarium had underwater viewing, Stone did not. Kenda was the last Polar Bear in New England. Both Major and Minor were wild-born.

    Roger Williams displayed Polar Bears until 2005 on all concrete. The exhibit was partially moated and had viewing underwater.
     
  11. Buldeo

    Buldeo Well-Known Member

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    Just to clarify, SF has two polar bear grottoes. One has partial natural substrate while the other is entirely concrete. If memory serves, they don't rotate the bears either. So one of them is always on concrete.

    (And I don't think they'll get anymore either.)

    Fun story: I was visiting Washington, DC in '06, and when I was finally able to sit in on the House, the first thing they were arguing about: dedicating money to research the plight of Russian polar bears.

    What specific regulations, though, are prohibiting the importation of Canadian polar bears?
     
  12. blospz

    blospz Well-Known Member

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    I think you may be right and that is unfortunate. I know someone who is a zoo regular and she's not a fan of the natural substrate exhibit either because it's a big hill of dirt. There's really no escape from it to stay clean.
     
  13. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Did St. Louis get polar bears before their exhibit is opened, or do they have some sourced?

    If I recall correctly a major issue with this exhibit and some of the other new ones was that there weren't any polar bears available.
     
  14. Buldeo

    Buldeo Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't necessarily call it a big pile of dirt -- it has some grass and a couple of small trees -- but, yes, you couldn't escape it until the zoo recently demoed the wall separating the old Andean bear exhibit from the second polar bear grotto creating one jumbo grotto. So now both bears have a pool (and that I've seen them both use with greater regularity).

    There are a few pictures in the gallery for your perusal as well.
     
  15. ctfctf7

    ctfctf7 Well-Known Member

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    The Tulsa Zoo exhibited and bred polar bears up until 2009 when the zoo's last bear, Kavek, passed away. The bears were originally exhibited in grottos and then moved to the Arctic building located among the themed museum buildings. That particular exhibit was then renovated to allow underwater viewing and expanded with the addition of a grassy second yard. Since then the exhibit was renovated to house grizzly bears. The new exhibit features new fencing, grass in both yards, pool improvements and a log/den in the second yard. In my opinion the exhibit is still to small and not very realistic but i understand the expense and the reason to repurpose an existing space.
     
  16. TZFan

    TZFan Well-Known Member

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    I don't remember the specifics of it but it has something to do with the US considering polar bears an endangered species. In Canada they are a species of special concern. As such there is some hunting allowed in Canada. Somehow the Canadians being allowed to hunt polar bears means the US will not allow Canadian bears to cross the border. Or that's just part of the problem. It also may have to do with preserving Alaskan polar bear bloodlines. Like I said I don't remember specifics.
     
  17. blospz

    blospz Well-Known Member

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    It's predicted Kali, the wild orphaned male polar bear who resides at the Buffalo Zoo, will go to Saint Louis Zoo once the exhibit opens. I know the Buffalo Zoo would like to keep him since he's shown signs of stress with his move from Alaska. Luna, the juvenile female polar bear at the Buffalo Zoo, has helped him be at ease. But since she has been injured recently and they've been kept apart, maybe he'll learn to adjust without her. The US Marine/Fish & Wildlife (I'm sorry I never get the exact title correct) has control on where Kali ends up.

    Henry Vilas is also a zoo that currently has no polar bears. I have heard one of both of the Toledo twins, now at Como Park Zoo, may end of there. Unfortunately we're getting bigger and better exhibits and they will only house one to two bears in them unless we get a baby boom in the next couple of years.
     
  18. BeardsleyZooFan

    BeardsleyZooFan Well-Known Member

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    I believe Zoo Leon in Mexico has Polar Bears in their collection, although I may be wrong.
     
  19. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

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  20. cloudedleopard

    cloudedleopard Well-Known Member

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    I have seen polar bears in quite a few zoos I have visited-
    Erie (now gone)
    Cleveland (now gone)
    Toledo
    Cincinnati
    Columbus
    Detroit
    Lincoln Park Zoo (will come back)
    Brookfield
    San Diego
    Bronx