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.
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.
POLAR BEARS IN CAPTIVITY
|COUNTRY||FACILITY||TYPE||Total area / capacity||FEMALES / MALES||TOTAL|
|Australia||Sea World, Gold Coast, Queensland||Aquarium||1,322 sq. mtrs. / capacity for 5 bears per designers||2 females / 2 males||04|
|China||More than 39|
|Italy||Zoo Safari Fasano||Zoo and Theme Park||Not known||2 females / 1 male||03|
|Singapore||Singapore Zoo||Zoo. NOTE: In 2006 the Zoo announced it will bring no more polar bears to Singapore.||Not known||1 male (Inuka) born 26 December 1990||01|
|Sweden||Orsa Rovdjyrspark, Orson||2 females (Ewa & Hope) / 1 male (Wilbar)||03|
|United Kingdom||Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster||Wildlife Park||10 acres||4 males (Nissan, Nobby, Pixel & Victor)||04|
|United Kingdom||RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, Kincraig, Kingussie PH21 1NL||Wildlife Park||1 female (Victoria) / 2 males (Walker & Arctos) + unsexed cub born 12/2017||03|
|United States of America||ABQ Bio Park Zoo, Albuquerque, New Mexico (aka Rio Grande Zoo)||2 males (Koluk & Kiska) (brothers)||02|
|United States of America||Alaska Zoo, Anchorage||1 male (Lyutyik)||01|
|United States of America||Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, Illinois||1 female (Nan) / 1 male (Hudson)||02|
|United States of America||Buffalo Zoo, Buffalo, New York||1 female (Luna) / 1 male (Sakari)||02|
|United States of America||Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio||1 female (Anana) / 1 male (Little One)||02|
|United States of America||Columbus Zoological Gardens, Powell, Ohio||4 females (Aurora, Anana, Amelia Gray, Neva) / 1 male (Nuniq)||05|
|United States of America||Como Park Zoo & Conservatory, Saint Paul, Minnesota||2 males (Neal & Buzz) (twins)||02|
|United States of America||Denver Zoological Gardens, Colorado||1 female (Cranbeary) / 1 male (Lee)||02|
|United States of America||Detroit Zoological Park, Michigan||1 female (Suka) / 1 male (Nuka)||02|
|United States of America||Henry Villas Zoo, Madison, Wisconsin||1 female (Berit)||01|
|United States of America||Kansas City Zoo, Kansas||1 female (Berlin)||01|
|United States of America||Lincoln Park & Zoological Gardens, Chicago, Illinois||1 female (Talini) / 1 male (Siku)||02|
|United States of America||Louisville Zoo, Kentucky||1 female (Qannik)||01|
|United States of America||Maryland Zoo, Baltimore||1 female (Anoki)||01|
|United States of America||Memphis Zoo, Tennessee||1 female (Haley) / 1 male (Payton)||02|
|United States of America||Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin||1 female (Snow Lilly)||01|
|United States of America||North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, North Carolina||1 female (Anana) / 1 male (Nikita)||02|
|United States of America||Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Omaha, Nebraska||Zoo & Aquarium||Includes 30,000 US gallon tank||1 female (Bam Bam) (aka Fanny) born in facility 29 November 1987||01(due to be moved to Kansas City Zoo in April 2018)|
|United States of America||Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon||New exhibit due 2018||00|
|United States of America||Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Pennsylvania||1 female (Snowflake) / 1 male (Koda)||02|
|United States of America||Port Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Tacoma, Washington||Upgraded exhibit due circa 2019||2 males (Blizzard & Boris)||02|
|United States of America||Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri||Upgraded exhibit opened 2015; designed to house 2 adult bears and up to 3 cubs||1 male (Kali)||01|
|United States of America||San Diego Zoo, California||2 females (Chinook & Tatqiq) / 1 male (Kalluk) (brother to Tatqiq)||03|
|United States of America||Toledo Zoo & Aquarium, Ohio||1 female (Crystal) / 1 male (Marty)||02|
|United States of America||Utah's Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City, Utah||2 female (Hope & Nora)||02|
|Total for USA: 44|
|World Totals||More than 306|
Page updated 13 April 2018