The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) is hosting free activities at the Detroit Zoo’s award-winning Arctic Ring of Life to celebrate International Polar Bear Day and raise awareness of the conservation concerns facing this iconic species. Two events – one on Sunday, Feb. 26, and another on Monday, Feb. 27 – will include zookeeper talks, educational activities and photo opportunities with the Zoo’s polar bear mascot from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.
“Our hope is that the 1.7 million people who visit the Detroit Zoo each year leave here with a greater understanding of the issues facing polar bears in the wild and the realization that everyone can do something to help save the these animals and their arctic habitat,” said Gerry VanAcker, DZS chief operating officer.
Nuka and Talini – 12-year-old polar bears that reside in the 4-acre Arctic Ring of Life – will receive special treats in their habitat at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Animal care staff will be stationed in the Nunavut Gallery to share information about the personalities and behaviors of this breeding pair.
Education stations will include Zoomy handheld microscopes that will provide an up-close look at the fur of a polar bear to see that it’s not actually white but rather translucent and hollow – the sun’s reflection off the bear’s dark skin gives the illusion of a white coat. “Blubber gloves” will demonstrate how blubber serves as insulation for these marine mammals, keeping them warm despite their icy climate.
Conservation stations will allow visitors to witness the decrease in ice cover in the Arctic over the last several decades, analyze aerial photography to understand declining polar bear populations, and weigh puppets to comprehend the drop in average weight of these animals over the years.
Polar bear facts will be incorporated into footprints placed throughout the 70-foot-long Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage, a clear tunnel that winds through the polar bears’ underwater environment as the animals swim above and around. Children will have the opportunity to piece together a life-sized polar bear puzzle in the Exploration Station.
The first 125 attendees at each of the International Polar Bear Day events will receive a free magnet with green tips to help lighten one’s carbon footprint.