Polar bear in the Bronx Zoo, New York, USE (Alexisrael)
If ever there is an animal that doesn’t belong in a zoo it’s the polar bear. These Arctic giants have huge ranges in the wild, traveling many of hundreds of miles in their search for food. They have evolved over millennia to exist and thrive in the harsh environment of the arctic. It is our belief, based on considered scientific evidence, that polar bears are a species that should never be kept in captivity.
Man, indeed most, polar bears in zoos are kept in climates which are totally unsuitable. No facility which houses captive polar bears provides sufficient space for them ato live anything approaching a natural life. It is not surprising therefore that many polar bears kept in zoos show symptoms of abnormal behavior, such as continually shaking their heads, running up and down their enclosures or swimming in a stereotypical fashion.
Captive polar bears, along with orcas and other cetaceans, suffer from more sickness and psychologically related illness than other animals kept in captivity. These acts are ways in which they try to compensate for what is lacking from their environment.
Bear Conservation is working to compile a comprehensive list of all polar bears currently kept in captivity. If you would like to help with this work then please get in touch.
Our ultimate aim is to see an end to the keeping of polar bears in captivity. The first step towards this will be an end to all polar bear breeding programmes in zoos. Many of the cubs born in captivity die within a few years, or even months, of birth. Breeding polar bears in zoos can never “save the bears” from extinction, or repopulate the wild. No captive-born polar bear has ever been successfully released into the wild.
We will be mounting a number of campaigns in this area over the coming years. Meanwhile you can help by staying away from zoos that have polar bears in their collections and, most importantly, by telling those zoos why you won’t be visiting them.
Information on captive bears and on future campaigns will be published here in 2018.
Page updated 19 September 2017