The Zoo received its first polar bear in 1917; it was displayed in a cage. In 1926, a new polar bear grotto was complete, one of the world's first barless enclosures. Polar Bear Plunge opened in 1996 and was enhanced in 2010.
Polar Bear Plunge is one of the largest polar bear exhibits in the world.
Snow is added to the polar bears' exhibit for special occasions. The bears enjoy playing on the white stuff—slipping, sliding, and even eating it!
At the Experience Wall, visitors can meet our polar bears and a keeper in an exciting new way. At various times, a keeper opens a section of the large glass panels and interacts with the bears through the wire mesh. You can hear the bears as they curiously sniff all the onlookers!
Other new interactive elements include:
- Storybooks: Get the scoop on polar bears from these supersize illustrated storybooks. Children can read the stories and turn the big pages.
- Measure Up: Compare your height to our life-size polar bear statues, see how many people it takes to weigh the same as an adult polar bear, and check the refrigerators to see how much humans eat compared to polar bears.
- Snow Den: Crawl into a polar bear den to see how mother polar bears raise their cubs, then pop your head up through ice holes like a ringed seal, the polar bear’s prey.
- Research Helicopter: Find out how conservation researchers study polar bears in the Arctic, and climb into the seat of a real research helicopter.
- It’s Melting: See 4-D models of the Arctic ice from 1989 and 2007 to see what’s happening to the polar bear’s habitat. Play the ice floe game by hopping from one floe to another along the ground to see if you can get to food.
- Carbon Graph: Find out what recorded carbon dioxide levels have been historically and compare them to where they are today. Discover what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint to make a difference.