International Polar Bear Day
February 27th is International Polar Bear Day! Polar bears awe and inspire us with their strength and beauty, but they really need our help. Polar bears rely on sea ice to hunt seals, their main source of food. As the planet warms, the sea ice melts—and polar bears are unable to get the nutrients they need to survive.
Why is the planet warming more quickly than ever? That’s where humans come in. Burning fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) to meet our ever-growing energy needs releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The rampant carbon dioxide builds up, forming a heat-trapping blanket around the planet. Over time, the average temperature of the earth rises, and this affects all ecosystems. In the arctic, sea ice is melting at a more rapid rate than ever before, threatening polar bear survival. In Africa, spreading deserts mean less food and water are available for elephants and other grassland species. In the world’s oceans, warmer temperatures kill coral—and that affects the entire ocean food chain. Climate change is a serious threat to many wildlife species on this planet, including humans, who depend on these ecosystems too.
So what can you do? Along with partners Polar Bears International (PBI) and many of our zoo and aquarium colleagues, we invite you to take the Thermostat Challenge. While our friends in other parts of the country will turn down the heat by two degrees to conserve energy, our challenge in Arizona this warm February is to avoid the temptation to use the air conditioner! Break out your tank tops and shorts, open the windows, and do your part to reduce energy consumption. Polar bears—and countless other wildlife species—will thank you!
For more information on how polar bears are affected by climate change, and what you can do to help them, visit http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/. Reid Park Zoo proudly supports PBI’s important work to conserve polar bears and other arctic species in the wild.