February 27th was designated as International Polar Bear Day by Polar Bears International (PBI). PBI is an organization dedicated to the conservation of the polar bear and its habitat. This year for International Polar Bear Day, PBI encouraged people all over the world to lower their thermostat by 2 degrees to reduce their carbon emissions.
Though the polar bear is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and by the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that the current global polar bear population of 20,000 to 25,000 is in decline. Cited as a vulnerable species, the IUCN predicts a “suspected population reduction of >30 percent within three generations (45 years)” – primarily attributable to climate change.
Rising temperatures in the Arctic have caused sea ice to melt earlier in the season than in years past. Polar bears feed mainly on ringed and bearded seals with mature polar bears eating simply the calorie-rich blubber and skin since they are able to subsist off their fat reserves when food is scarce. Since polar bears hunt for seals from an ice platform, the melting sea ice causes bears to seek the shore before their fat reserves are sufficient enough to survive off. The receding sea ice also forces the bears to further deplete their fat reserves by swimming longer distances to find shores.
You can learn more about the many other ways to lower your carbon emissions and contribute to polar bear conservation at www.polarbearsinternational.org/education/how-to-live-greener.
To see polar bears, you don’t have to visit Hudson Bay. You can visit an AZA accredited institution near you.
AZA Institutions with Polar Bears