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 bred in captivity, nor should they be actively sourced for captivity from the wild.  However, even if this ideal state were to be achieved, there would still be problems and issues around what to do with cubs found orphaned in the wild and “problem bears” captured in populated areas.

Many, indeed most,  polar bears in zoos and aquaria are kept in climates which are totally unsuitable.  Very few, (possibly only one), facilities provide sufficient space for captive polar bears to live anything approaching a natural life.  It is not surprising therefore that many polar bears kept in zoos and aquaria 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 breeding of polar bears in captivity and the closure of substandard polar bear “exhibits” in zoos and aquaria, with the transfer of bears to modern, well-designed sanctuaries. The first step towards this will be an end to all polar bear breeding programmes in zoos and aquaria.  Many of the cubs born in captivity die within a few years, or even months, of birth.  Breeding polar bears in captivity can never “save the bears” from extinction, nor repopulate the wild.  No captive-born polar bear has ever been successfully released into the wild; indeed to do so would be contrary to IUCN guidelines.

We will be mounting a number of campaigns in this area over the coming years.  Meanwhile you can help by visiting zoos that have polar bears, collecting photographs and information on them and submitting it to us.

MORE INFORMATION

We are currently researching to compile as comprehensive a list as possible of captive polar bears.  The following interim table generally give totals only, based on the best information obtainable to date.  It does however contain more detailed information for Australia, Italy, Singapore, Sweden, the UK and the USA.  Within the table you will also find links to individual country pages for Australia, Austria and Italy.  Individual pages for each US facility will be added soon.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

POLAR BEARS IN CAPTIVITY

COUNTRYFACILITYTYPETotal area / capacity FEMALES / MALESTOTAL
AustraliaSea World, Gold Coast, QueenslandAquarium1,322 sq. mtrs. / capacity for 5 bears per designers2 females / 2 males04
Austria 02
Belgium 03
Brazil 02
Canada 22
China More than 39
Czech Republic 06
Denmark 11
Estonia 04
Finland 02
France 14
Germany 24
Hungary 04
ItalyZoo Safari FasanoZoo and Theme ParkNot known 2 females / 1 male03
Japan 39
Kazakhstan 01
Latvia 01
Mexico 02
Netherlands 18
Poland 02
Russia 36
SingaporeSingapore ZooZoo. NOTE: In 2006 the Zoo announced it will bring no more polar bears to Singapore. Not known 1 male (Inuka) born 26 December 199001
South Korea 02
SwedenOrsa Rovdjyrspark, Orson2 females (Ewa & Hope) / 1 male (Wilbar) 03
Tajikistan 01
Thailand 02
Ukraine03
United KingdomYorkshire Wildlife Park, DoncasterWildlife Park10 acres4 males (Nissan, Nobby, Pixel & Victor)04
United KingdomRZSS Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig, Kingussie PH21 1NLWildlife Park 1 female (Victoria) / 2 males (Walker & Arctos) + unsexed cub born 12/201703
United States of AmericaABQ Bio Park Zoo, Albuquerque, New Mexico (aka Rio Grande Zoo) 2 males (Koluk & Kiska) (brothers)02
United States of AmericaAlaska Zoo, Anchorage 1 male (Lyutyik)01
United States of AmericaBrookfield Zoo, Chicago, Illinois1 female (Nan) / 1 male (Hudson)02
United States of AmericaBuffalo Zoo, Buffalo, New York1 female (Luna) / 1 male (Sakari)02
United States of AmericaCincinnati Zoo, Ohio1 female (Anana) / 1 male (Little One)02
United States of AmericaColumbus Zoological Gardens, Powell, Ohio4 females (Aurora, Anana, Amelia Gray, Neva) / 1 male (Nuniq)05
United States of AmericaComo Park Zoo & Conservatory, Saint Paul, Minnesota2 males (Neal & Buzz) (twins)02
United States of AmericaDenver Zoological Gardens, Colorado1 female (Cranbeary) / 1 male (Lee)02
United States of AmericaDetroit Zoological Park, Michigan1 female (Suka) / 1 male (Nuka)02
United States of AmericaHenry Villas Zoo, Madison, Wisconsin1 female (Berit) 01
United States of AmericaKansas City Zoo, Kansas1 female (Berlin)01
United States of AmericaLincoln Park & Zoological Gardens, Chicago, Illinois1 female (Talini) / 1 male (Siku)02
United States of AmericaLouisville Zoo, Kentucky1 female (Qannik)01
United States of AmericaMaryland Zoo, Baltimore1 female (Anoki)01
United States of AmericaMemphis Zoo, Tennessee1 female (Haley) / 1 male (Payton)02
United States of AmericaMilwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin1 female (Snow Lilly)01
United States of AmericaNorth Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, North Carolina1 female (Anana) / 1 male (Nikita)02
United States of AmericaOmaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, NebraskaZoo & AquariumIncludes 30,000 US gallon tank1 female (Bam Bam) (aka Fanny) born in facility 29 November 198701(due to be moved to Kansas City Zoo in April 2018)
United States of AmericaOregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon New exhibit due 201800
United States of AmericaPittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Pennsylvania1 female (Snowflake) / 1 male (Koda)02
United States of AmericaPort Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, WashingtonUpgraded exhibit due circa 20192 males (Blizzard & Boris)02
United States of AmericaSaint Louis Zoo, MissouriUpgraded exhibit opened 2015; designed to house 2 adult bears and up to 3 cubs1 male (Kali)01
United States of AmericaSan Diego Zoo, California2 females (Chinook & Tatqiq) / 1 male (Kalluk) (brother to Tatqiq)03
United States of AmericaToledo Zoo & Aquarium, Ohio1 female (Crystal) / 1 male (Marty)02
United States of America Utah's Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, Utah2 female (Hope & Nora)02
Total for USA: 44
World TotalsMore than 306

Page updated 13 April 2018

Close Menu