Location: Sea World, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Address: Sea World Drive, Main Beach, QLD 4217, Queensland, Australia
Telephone: +61 5588 2222
Exhibit: Polar Bear Shores
Hudson (male). Born November 2003 in the wild. Arrived via Quebec on 22 November 2014. Father of Mishka (see below).
Nelson (male). Born 2003 in the wild. Arrived via Quebec on 22 November 2014. Father of Henry (see note below).
Liya (female). Born 9 December 2000 in captivity at Leningrad Zoo, St. Petersburg, Russia. Mother of Henry (see note below) and Mishka (see below).
Mishka (female). Born 26 April 2017 at this facility (parents Hudson and Liya). Mishka was born with a twin but after nine days her mother devoted all her attention to Mishka and the sibling died. This had also happened in 2013, see note below.
Note: Henry (male) born in this facility 9 May 2013. Transferred 7 October 2015 to Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, Ontario, Canada. Henry was one of twins but his sibling died when his mother devoted all her attention to Henry.
The Polar Bear Shores complex was completed in December 2000. It is designed to depict “an Arctic summer theme” and to accomodate up to five bears. The open air exhibit is shaded, with chilled underwater viewing, and is the only polar bear display in Australia.
Sea World have indicated that around 40% of visitors are from outside Australia.There are large underwater viewing windows and interpretive information is provided.
The bears have been observed climbing, diving, swimming, foraging for food and resting.
The complex comprises a public presentation area (the on-exhibit bear habitat facilities comprising pool and landscaped dry areas) and a service complex (the off-exhibit facilities comprising exercise yard, dens, pools, and support facilitities).
Husbandry and service facilities are located in an enclosed and air conditioned area at the rear of the public presentation area. They include five dens, an administration and records office, incorporating security video surveillance equipment, a storeroom and a freight dock.
The off-exhibit facilities are designed to ensure that male and female bears may be housed and moved separately to each other. Two bear distribution races enable an isolated bear to be moved between the dens, exercise yard and on-exhibit habitat area in isolation from a bear in any other of those locations.
The on-exhibit bear habitat and the exercise yard are bounded by a 5 metre high, non-scaleable, simulated rock wall. Exhibit and service buildings are constructed from steel and concrete. Bear containment doors are constructed of welded non-corrosive stainless steel plate and mesh; walls are constructed of strengthened concrete and stainless steel plate and mesh.
In conjunction with the main pool system, a fresh water stream including weirs flows through the exhibit, creating different water levels in individual pools from 200 mm to one metre. Differing grades of river stone are incorporated, just as occurs in the natural habitat of the species.
Sprinkler and misting systems are installed to simulate rain and mist and aid in cooling, and strategically placed fans create cooling air movement and bring into the exhibit and exercise yard both ambient and deliberately introduced scents via purpose-planted herb beds.
The total dry area is 861 square metres, the total area of pools 471 square metres, and the total water volume 587,500 litres. The public presentation area is 41 metres by 32 metres. Overall there is a toal area of 1,332 square metres split between 186 square metres indoors and 1,146 square metres outdoors.
Sources: ZooLex (a service of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Bear Conservation research.
For more information click here to go to the ZooLex page for this facility (opens in a new window).
- Use of bears for breeding purposes
- Unsuitable climatic conditions
- Only 333 square metres of area for each of the current four occupants. Whilst this exceeds the Manitoba Standard it falls far short of our own recommendation for polar bear sanctuaries of at least 8,000 square metres (2 acres) per animal.
- Unnatural behaviour of female bear resulting in the death of two cubs
- It seems clear from the facilities website that the polar bear cub Mishka is being heavily utilised to publicise the venue and attract visitors. In our opinion, this appears to highlight a major motive, if not the only motive, for Sea World’s captive polar bear breeding programme.
We do not at present have reliable information on the feeding, exercise, medical and enrichment regimes at Sea World.
Below are two videos; the first filmed by a visitor to Sea World Gold Coast in 2013, the second a promotional video from Sea World.