Polar Bears International Conference Held at YWP

12th January 2024

A crucial summit to help prevent polar bears hurtling towards extinction is being held at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park this week.

Experts are gathering for the landmark EAZA International Polar Bear Conference to share the latest research in the effort to protect the vulnerable species.

The WildLife Foundation, based at the park, has donated £10,000 funding to support polar bear conservation as climate change continues to blight populations with certain areas suffering a 40% loss in numbers.
The park, at Auckley, near Doncaster, is the site of Project Polar – the largest polar bear centre outside Canada and home to eight bears – and the WildLife Foundation has been at the forefront of global conservation programmes.  YWP celebrates the milestone 10th Anniversary of Project Polar in 2024.
“We are so excited to announce this donation and to increase our involvement in global Polar Bear conservation efforts,” says Cheryl Williams, trustee of the WildLife Foundation. “We wanted to start the New Year in the right way, and we can’t think of a better cause.”
The two-day conference features a packed agenda examining climate change issues, veterinary care and the role of zoos in the research, conservation and welfare of polar bears. Delegates have come from around the world including from San Diego, Oregon, Kansas and Buffalo in the US, Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Germany and France. A delegation from Polar Bears International also brought great knowledge and inspiration to the event.
“This conference will be the perfect opportunity to promote education for this amazing species. The way forward for protection and conservation is collaborative work and the conference is the perfect place to do this bringing together experts from zoos and those who work in the field with wild polar bears,” says Yorkshire Wildlife Park Animal Director Charlotte McDonald.  “This event has some exciting Q&A sessions lined up as well as in-house demonstrations of Polar Bear training. We are excited to hear about the different areas of research and how we can all play our part in helping to protect Polar Bears. It has also been a great opportunity to showcase what we do here at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, and of course our wonderful bears ”
She adds: “The conference will promote wider collaboration between organisations and create a stronger community of research. The efforts of Yorkshire Wildlife Park, the WildLife Foundation and global experts will hopefully help to protect this amazing species of animal.it has been a wonderful opportunity for our rangers to share their knowledge and learn from others too.”
Research has shown that Arctic Sea ice, the prime habitat of the 19 regional populations of polar bears, is shrinking by 13% a decade with the rate accelerating as the world battles to restrict carbon emissions. Loss of sea ice reduces the opportunities for polar bears to hunt and survive and the numbers in the wild are down to an estimated 26,000 and expected to decline by a further 30% by 2050.
The WildLife Foundation has previously funded the Polar Bears International education programme, which aims to teach communities in bear regions, about the importance of looking after the amazing animals.
“Polar Bears International do fantastic work, conducting research to conserve Polar Bears and the sea ice they depend on,” adds Cheryl Williams.
“We hope that this donation will support their inspiring work and enable YWP to play an even bigger role in the global efforts to protect this precious species. There are many challenges ahead for polar bears, not least climate change which remains the main threat to their future existence but events such as thing bring great hope and strengthen our resolve for the future. We would like to thank everybody who has supported the Foundation’s work with polar bears.


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