International Polar Bear Day February 27
The Zoo will drop its thermostat setting by two degrees in its administration office buildings for employees. If we all turn down the thermostat, we can reduce our carbon footprint.
Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the Zoo
11 a.m. - 2 p.m. in The Living World/North Entrance
- Meet the Coca-Cola Polar Bear mascot (11 a.m. - 12 noon).
- How do polar bears adjust their internal thermostat? Kids can try on a "blubber glove" to see how a bear's thick fur and blubber help keep it warm in the icy ocean waters.
- What does a polar bear's fur feel like? Just how big are its paws and teeth? Get a closer look at bear biofacts and learn about adaptations.
- Think you're a polar bear expert? Test your bear knowledge by grabbing a take-home activity booklet.
Zoo staff will answer questions about the dire state of polar bears in the wild and offer ways we can all help.
Lecture by Curator of Carnivores
12 noon in The Living World/North Entrance
Steve Bircher, Saint Louis Zoo curator of mammals/carnivores, will present an overview of polar bears and the need for their conservation. Bircher serves as Director of the WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Large Carnivores in Africa and as a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Polar Bear Species Survival Plan Management Committee, which oversees the captive population of polar bears in North America.
Cell phone recycling
To help protect endangered species, the St. Louis American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK) invite you to recycle your old cell phones, mp3 players, digital cameras and other electronic hand-held devices. The Zoo has set up permanent collection points at each of the Welcome Desks at both of its entrances. The recycled materials keep items out of landfills and are used to produce new devices without taking the resources from habitats where endangered species would be disturbed. The funds AAZK receives for recycling go to support conservation projects worldwide. Over the past few years St. Louis AAZK has recycled thousands of devices and supported many different conservation efforts around the world.
Most of the world's known coltan, a mineral used in most high tech equipment, is found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa. Illegal mining of coltan is subsidizing rebel fighting, exploiting local people and endangering indigenous people and wildlife, including elephants and gorillas, in the second largest rainforest in the world.
The Crisis of Melting Sea Ice
Polar bears are facing a relatively new and very serious threat to their survival — the loss of their sea ice habitat. Sea ice is essential to the bears to hunt seals on ice floes or near breath holes since they are not fast enough swimmers to catch seals in open water. They stalk and ambush their prey on that sea ice. Over the last 20 years, scientists have documented a dramatic reduction in Arctic sea ice. Recent modeling of future sea ice trends predicts dramatic reductions in sea ice coverage over the next 50 to 100 years and the potential loss of all polar bears near the end of this century.
In Canada's Hudson Bay, for example, the sea ice season has been shortened by several weeks, limiting the time that polar bears can prey on seals. Every day a polar bear goes without seals to eat, that bear loses approximately two pounds of blubber. The pounds really add up when weeks of hunting are eliminated. Scientists are finding thinner bears, lower female reproductive rates, smaller litters and higher death rates among young polar bears in that region.
Because of climate change, the amount of sea ice from year to year is dramatically declining. Climate change is caused, in large part, by the increase of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) in the atmosphere. GHGs trap heat from the earth, that would otherwise deflect out into the atmosphere, and, in turn, raises the global temperature. If these temperatures continue to rise, there will be no ice left for the polar bears to hunt from, and many other species will perish. Polar bears need our help, and they need it now.
There's Good News — You Can Help!
It is not too late to help polar bears. In fact, it is actually quite easy! The best way we can help Arctic species and other animals around the world is by reducing our current carbon footprint. From zebras in Kenya to orangutans in Borneo to frogs in Brazil, we can all help to save species. For useful tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint, please visit polarbearsinternational.com and the Zoo's "do it yourself conservation" page.