Skip to main content

Polar bear

Did you know?

Ursus maritimus

Polar bears may look white – but their skin is actually black, and their fur is clear and hollow. (It’s also wiry to touch – how do we know? Scroll down and find out!)

Discover Polar bears

Habitat
Wild and Zoo
Polar bears live in the Arctic – in coastal lands, islands and seas above 70 degrees latitude. But while they hunt on ice, they are rarely seen close to the North Pole. Find ours in Arctic Tundra.
Arctic Tundra
Meet the Keepers
Pretty chill.
It’s quite a job to look after a polar bear! Meet our intrepid keepers each day at 11:30am at the Polar Bear Keeper Chat, and bring all your questions.
See daily schedule

Meet our bears

Boris
Blizzard
Eating
(and predators!)
Polar bears need blubber (a 4-inch layer of fat under their skin) to survive Arctic temperatures. They get this by eating seals, which they hunt just off the ice.
They’ll also sometimes eat walruses, belugas and other whales that have washed ashore. Their main predators are humans and other polar bears.
Baby bear
it's cold out there.
Female polar bears dig special dens to give birth, often to twin cubs which are around 10-12 inches long, weighing 2 pounds.
Mothers bring cubs out of the den after about 5 months, and stay with them for 2-3 years, helping them survive.
Going solo
(or sleeping it out)
Polar bears are mostly solitary, grouping only to protect babies or if there is abundant food.
They don’t hibernate, but will den temporarily to avoid harsh weather or while pregnant.

Protecting Polar bears

Our home is melting.

THE THREAT: Polar bears face a huge threat – their home is melting. As climate change melts sea ice, they have nowhere to hunt seals, and face both starvation and human hunters on land.

TAKE ACTION: It’s not too late to slow the melting of the ice. Take action by reducing your carbon footprint, driving and idling less, lowering your thermostat and encouraging others to do the same

Arctic Stories

5 Animals that Beat the Cold

We’re all feeling the cold right about now in the Pacific Northwest – and the rest of the country too. But here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, our animals have some pretty cool ways to deal with it. From fur coats to heated hammocks, here are five ways our animals beat the winter cold. … Continued

Read More
10 Rainy Day Reasons to Visit the Zoo

Rainy day? Here in the Pacific Northwest we get a lot of them. But that’s actually one of the best times to visit the Zoo! Fewer crowds, cool animals and plenty of places to stay dry. Here are 10 ways to do it. 1. Gaze at sea turtles Our new Pacific Seas Aquarium is the … Continued

Read More
Caring for Boris

At age 33, Boris is very likely the oldest male polar bear on the planet. We know he’s the oldest male of his species in zoo-related databases that keep track of polar bears worldwide. And since polar bears live longer under human care than they do in the wild, we think he is the champ. … Continued

Read More
Who's Nearby?
Like our polar bears? Then visit our Arctic fox, just along the path at Arctic Tundra.