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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!)

SAD NEWS: Our elderly and beloved polar bear Boris was humanely euthanized Sept. 1 after declining health. We’ll miss you so much, Boris. Read the story for more details.

Discover our Polar bear

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! Our keepers do unscheduled talks daily, to prevent congestion. Bring all your questions!

Meet our bear

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

Farewell, Boris

TACOMA, Wash. – Boris, an elderly polar bear believed to be the oldest male of his species on the planet, was humanely euthanized at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium on Sept. 1 following a significant decline in his health. He was 34, a one-time circus bear who found a stable home in Tacoma, where he … Continued

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National Zookeeper Week

National Zookeeper Week takes place July 19-25 this year. The week is devoted to sharing the passion and dedication of keepers. Even though Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium was temporarily closed to the public to slow the spread of COVID-19, the keepers never took a pause. They are a dedicated group of people who work … Continued

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Splish, splash! Zoo animals that beat the heat

We all love summer in the Pacific Northwest, but there’s no doubt that some days get pretty hot. Humans are pretty creative in finding ways to beat the heat – splashing, shade, cool clothes – and our Zoo animals do it too! Muskox Muskoxen are adapted for living above the Arctic Circle and nibbling for … Continued

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