International Polar Bear Day at Hellabrunn Zoo

On Saturday, 27 February, the Species Conservation Center at Hellabrunn Zoo will again mark International Polar Bear Day with a special exhibition in which visitors can learn about the endangered species and how they are affected by climate change.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Daniela Hierl

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Daniela Hierl

Polar bears in the wild are facing a serious challenge: the icy habitat of the world's largest terrestrial predator is literally melting away in the circumpolar Arctic. Hellabrunn Zoo will dedicate International Polar Bear Day to raising awareness of the continuing threat to the fellow species of our Munich polar bears Giovanna and Yoghi. International Polar Bear Day was launched in 2004 by the organisation Polar Bears International and is marked each year on 27 February to draw worldwide attention to climate change and the threat it imposes on polar bears in the Arctic. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the current population of polar bears in the wild is about 20,000. The IUCN classifies the polar bear as "threatened". Scientists predict that the population will dramatically decline within the next few decades.

On 27 February, an Ask Me station will be set up inside the Species Conservation Center staffed by volunteers to inform visitors about global warming and give advice on how each of us can play a part in saving the polar bear. The station will be open between 10am - 4pm. In the adjacent Seminar Room, visitors will be able to view a polar bear exhibition and short films about the polar bears twins Nela and Nobby living at Hellabrunn. There is also a Polar Bear Talk at 10:30am and 3:00pm where the keepers relate interesting facts about the daily lives of the polar bears at the zoo.

Hellabrunn Zoo has been a sponsor of Polar Bears International since 2014. The wildlife conservation organisation collects important scientific data on the distribution, habitat use, population size and reproductive rate of polar bears in the Canadian Hudson Bay as part of the Bear Tracker programme. The polar bears (females only) are fitted with satellite collars, which transmit GPS data that provides information about their way of life and helps to develop appropriate measures to protect them. Hellabrunn currently sponsors a collar for an eleven-year-old female that was fitted last September. Thanks to the tracking device, we know that the young bear has travelled more than 720 kilometres with her one-year-old cub in the last six months. As part of the celebrations for International Polar Bear Day, the zoo is looking for a name for the bear with the number X19939. In the Species Conservation Center, visitors are invited to vote on one of three names shortlisted and automatically enter a prize draw for an annual pass. The name chosen will then be assigned to the bear on the Bear Tracker Map, which allows any polar bear lover to follow the migration of the collared bears live: Link to Bear Track Map

Visitors who wish to contribute to the protection of polar bears can lend their support to the Polar Bears International project by making a donation in the donation box provided in the Species Conservation Center or obtain information about how we can all play a part in climate protection by simply changing some of our everyday habits.