Polar Bear – Ursus Maritimus
Project Polar is an innovative habitat for polar bears and a dynamic programme for their conservation and welfare. It is also a centre for research to help bears in the wild and in other zoos around the world.
Working in association with Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF) and Polar Bears International (PBI), Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s Project Polar is YWP and YWPF’s flagship project. It combines all three key objectives, conservation, welfare and education working towards saving and improving the welfare of one of the most iconic species – the polar bear.
Working with YWPF, YWP is a partner in the development of an international centre for the conservation and rehabilitation of polar bears both in captivity and in the wild. The work will include the rescue of bears from substandard conditions around the world and working on improving polar bear welfare in zoos and parks. Working with Polar Bears International, Project Polar will work to support the conservation and welfare of wild bears.
Project Polar will become an international centre for research and education at all levels with the support of the regional universities. This is a ground-breaking initiative in the world of conservation, welfare and research. With your support, not only will the great white bear survive in the future, but we can also impact on, educate and hopefully help to reverse some of the climate change that is affecting not just the animal world, but people too.
The Project Polar Reserve
The Project Polar reserve is home to four polar bears, 16 year old Victor who arrived at YWP in August 2014, now retired from the European breeding programme after siring 10 cubs, his grandson 2 year old Pixel who arrived at the park on the 25th of March 2015 from Holland, 2 year old Nissan who arrived all the way from Moscow on the 13th of October and YWP’s latest arrival, 2 year old Nobby who arrived from Munich on the 18th of February.
The ground-breaking reserve is 10 acres and features two lakes, the largest one covers an area of 6,500 square metres, containing over 25.5 million gallons of water. The 8 metre deep lake is fantastic for Pixel and Victor to swim, dive and play in and features an island that you will frequently see the bears launch themselves off into the water.
The reserve was built to reflect the habitat of the summer Arctic tundra. The polar bear population of South Hudson Bay spend up to 7 months of the year on habitat like this – and not snow and ice! The temperatures in summer can reach up to 26 degrees C.
Polar bears in the wild
Polar bears are native to the Arctic, they are divided into 19 subpopulations, 3 of which are in decline and are at risk of further decline due to climate change. The word `Arctic’ means with bear and `Antarctic’ means without bear. Polar bears are fantastically well adapted to their extremely harsh environment, for example their white coat scatters and reflects light providing excellent camouflage, and it’s also very thick for good insulation and waterproof! Not only this but their skin under their white coat is black, excellent for absorbing and retaining heat.
Historically hunting was the major threat facing polar bears, causing a drastic population decline. Hunting is now strictly regulated. The threats caused by global warming are now the main concern, but because humans are causing the problem, humans can fix it. This means all of us, individuals, communities, businesses and governments. If present emissions of greenhouse gasses are significantly reduced the polar bear and arctic habitat can be saved.
However, scientists predict that unless we take action to stop climate change, we will lose two-thirds of all polar bears by the middle of the century and all of them by the end of the century. Polar bears depend on sea ice for hunting and breeding and it is melting at an alarming rate. YWP work closely with a number of organisations to push for change, ensuring these magnificent animals and their habitat are here for years to come. Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF) support Polar Bears International (PBI) through donations, PBI are building momentum for action on climate change and work closely with the world’s leading polar bear scientists.
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