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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!)

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
Caring for Blizzard
after a cancer diagnosis.
Blizzard is diagnosed with liver cancer and will receive chemotherapy treatment and other supportive care to slow progression of the disease and prolong his life. The elderly bear is trained to participate in his medical care, putting a paw through a specially built sleeve in his den so his care team can take voluntary blood samples that are critical to assessing his health.
Blizzard's Care
Meet the Keepers
Pretty chill.
It’s quite a job to look after a polar bear - or a penguin! Our keepers give chats daily. Bring all your questions!
Zookeeper Life: Stephanie
Track Polar Bears
in the wild.
We help our conservation partner Polar Bears International track polar bears in the wild with studies here in the zoo. Follow along in real time with the PBI Polar Bear Tracker map to see where the bears are! It's crucial information for science and conservation.
Polar Bear Tracker

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

Bad luck for wildlife: 7 Animal Superstitions

Whenever Friday the 13th rolls around, even the least superstitious of us might look askance at a black cat or shiver at an owl hoot. But animal superstitions, although fun, can cause pretty bad luck for the wildlife who cross their paths. After all, we live in a world where 350,000 tourists can visit Scotland … Continued

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Animal Athletes

Human athletes might be battling it out for medals at the Olympic Games in Japan this month, but here at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, we have our own incredible athletes to celebrate: our animals! Who can leap the furthest? Climb the highest? Who’s the fastest swimmer, the cleanest diver, the most agile? Check out … Continued

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Students Shovel Sand for Polar Bear

Students from Tacoma School District’s Science and Math Institute (SAMI) recently helped shovel a truckload of sand into Blizzard the polar bear’s habitat. “The sand cools off Blizzard in the hot summer weather and is soft on his feet, too,” said Assistant Curator Sheriden. “Blizzard loves having fresh sand every year and we really appreciate … Continued

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