Blizzard the polar bear has millions of new fans after a video of him playing in the snow on February 13 went viral. In the video, Blizzard nose dives right into the fluffy cold powder and even seems to make some “bear angels.”
At 25 years old, Blizzard is considered a senior bear (the median life expectancy is 23.4 years). He receives exceptional care from both the veterinary staff and his keepers. He is one of the most powerful, awe-inspiring animals in our Zoo, standing at ten feet high. But Blizzard has a playful side, too, as seen in the snow video. He enjoys swimming in his pool, eyeballing visitors through the window and exploring the balls and enrichments keepers give him.
Blizzard was rescued as an orphaned cub in Churchill, Canada before coming to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. He’d been separated from his mother on the Arctic tundra and had no chance of survival in the wild, so we were happy to provide him with a wonderful home. It’s a loving home too – one of his keepers, Cindy Roberts, has cared for him since he arrived here. It’s relationships like the ones he has with Roberts and staff biologist Sheriden Ploof that have given Blizzard the trust he needs to help with polar bear research, allowing keepers to dye his hair in order to help scientists better understand its growth and protect polar bears in the wild as they face an uncertain, climate-changing future.
Point Defiance Zoo has worked for years with the non-profit Polar Bears International (PBI) to tell the story of polar bears in the wild, and the challenges they face, like the melting of sea ice. As climate change melts the ice, polar bears have nowhere to hunt seals and face both starvation and human hunters on land. The Zoo is a PBI Arctic Ambassador Center, and keepers and other staff have traveled to see bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Now, the two organizations are also partnering in scientific research on zoo bears that will make it easier to study – and hopefully save – their counterparts in the wild.