Giovanna photographed at Hellabrunn 27 September 2019 (Rufus46 – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Licence)


Location: Hellabrunn Zoo, München, Germany

Address: Tierparkstraße 30, 81543 München, Germany

Telephone: +49 89 625 080

Click here for Hellabrunn’s website contact form


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Exhibit: Polarium


Giovanna (female). Born 28 November 2006 in Zoo Safari Fasano, Italy.  Arrived Munich 20 January 2008.  Transferred to Berlin 08 September 2009.  Returned to Munich 30 July 2010.  Progeny: 09 December 2013 Nobby (male) & Nela (female).  21 November 2016 Quintana (female).

Nanook (female) born in captivity in ZOOM Erlebniswelt, Gelsenkirchen, Germany on 4 December 2017. Transferred to Hellabrunn Zoo 30 September 2020.

Nuna (studbook name Nanuq) (female) born in captivity in Mulhouse Zoo, France on 7 November 2016.  Arrived at Hellabrunn Zoo 30 September 2020.


The Polarium was constructed in 1975 to house polar bears, seals, penguins and musk oxen.  The polar bear area failed to meet modern standards and work began in September 2008 to renovate the enclosure and extend into the area originally used for musk oxen.  A building was erected between the two parts for use in cases of pregnancy.

 A 3.7 metre (12 feet) high glass barrier runs along the front of the enclosure and separates the animals from visitors.  Two large pools border the barrier.  The pools are allowed to freeze over in winter.  The pool in the old polar part of the enclosure is spring fed at 9 °C and never exceeds 18 °C.

Two openings in the back wall of the enclosure lead to the bears’ sleeping quarters.  These are left open during the day to allow the bears to retreat into the cool concrete building on hot days.  The doors are also left open at night allowing the bears to stay in the enclosure over night.  It is reported that they usually dig sleeping pits in the wood chip area.

Flooring in the original polar bear area is entirely of concrete with the addition of a wood chip filled basin between the pregnancy house and the diving pool.  The old musk oxen area is soil-covered and forms an undulating grass landscape with natural vegetation and a small waterfall.  Most of the vegetation is protected from the bears by electric grass.  The ground rises towards the back of the enclosure where there is a dry moat and large electric fence.

The total area of the Polarium available to the bears is 2,580 square metres (0.64 acres).  Of this 300 square metres is indoors and 612 square metres is covered by water.

The bears are fed “on exhibit” with meat, vegetables and fruit.  Enrichment objects are also provided.

A narrow walkway connects the two parts of the enclosure with a door on each end to serve as a shift corridor. The pregnancy building can be connected to either enclosure part via several gates. The building is under video surveillance and is equipped with specialized ventilation that helps to eliminate excremental fumes. Disturbance by the keepers is kept to a minimum.

A gate in the electric fence in the rear of the enclosure allows staff vehicular access to replace wood chips or gravel.

Architect’s drawing of exhibit (Münchner Tierpark Hellabrunn, 2008)

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).


  1. Use of bears for breeding purposes
  2. Only 1,290 square metres of area for each of the current two 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.

We do not at present have reliable comprehensive information on the feeding, exercise, medical and enrichment regimes at Hellabrunn.

Back to Captive Polar Bear Directory

Page updated 16 February 2021