San Diego Zoo Blogs

Two young males sparring.

Megan is reporting from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Read her previous post, Returning to the Polar Bears.

There are beautiful, calm, sunny days up here where you start to believe that you might begin to master the art of living in the polar bear’s Arctic home. But then, out of nowhere, the weather moves in. Of course the weather up here has any number of combinations of cold, rain, snow, and wind. And what really keeps you on your toes is that it can turn on a dime, leaving you feeling hopelessly ill-equipped to stand outside, even for a few minutes.
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Boris and Kim

See Kim’s previous post, Reindeer Baby Boris.

Back home at the San Diego Zoo’s reindeer exhibit in Polar Bear Plunge, keepers set up a “howdy pen” where Boris could continue to gain coordination and strength. We use howdy pens to create a safe and secure place for our young animals to go to if needed. We also developed a daily routine for Boris. In the morning, Boris left his howdy pen and followed us into the exhibit. The reindeer exhibit at the Zoo is lushly planted, steep, and large—great housing for the adult reindeer to navigate but tough for little Boris. We noticed in the late afternoons, when things were quiet, the curious adult reindeer (mother included) made their way down the hill and into Boris’ pen to investigate, sniffing him and helping themselves to his food and water. These were the first signs that the herd was accepting Boris.

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Flying to Churchill, in Manitoba, Canada, always fills me with excitement and anticipation. And as the flight into town began its descent, I felt like I was going home. I love it up here. I love the smell of the cold and the enormous sky. I first came to Churchill in 1993 as a graduate student, and I am happy to return to the Polar Bear Capital of North America as a panelist for Polar Bears International’s Tundra Connections program.

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Little Boris

“What is that?” keeper Pamela Weber wondered as she surveyed the reindeer exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. In the corner of the exhibit was a furry black bundle, completely unexpected. Did a wild raccoon or opossum somehow make its way into the enclosure? Upon closer inspection, Pamela realized it was, of all things, a baby reindeer!

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A bear checks out the humans on the Tundra Buggy.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read the previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5.

As Teen Leadership Camp 2010 starts to come to a close, I find myself reflecting on all of the great things that I will be taking with me back to San Diego. I have been so inspired by the wild polar bears, the presentations, and, of course, the other teen ambassadors. We formed a very tight-knit “family” during this past week, and it is going to be very hard for all of us to part ways.
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The teens were within inches of this female bear!

Teens from the U.S., Canada, and Australia attended Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Below is a post written by the whole group. Read a previous post from the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 4.

Today the connection was truly felt. The force of climate change was driven home by Robert Buchannan and all of the facilitators and was helped by our resident two polar bears outside the window of our Tundra Buggy. Last night ended with incredible inspiration by a fellow ambassador, Alannah Watkins, and the facilitators, Cynthia and Andrew. We were dazzled by the map of the retreating sea ice in the Arctic, which drove home the importance of taking action.
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The third bear spotted by the teens.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 3.

I cannot even begin to describe the feelings running through me right now, but I’ll give it a shot! This morning, October 13, my fellow ambassadors and I got out on the tundra and headed for the Tundra Buggy Lodge, the place we are going to call home for the next few nights. On the way to the Lodge, we saw three different bears. The first bear was far away, but the fact that we were observing a polar bear in its natural habitat put many of us in a state of shock, wonder, and amazement.
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Some of the teen ambassadors in front of the Polar Bear Holding Facility.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 2.

Today (October 12) was a very eventful day full of learning about the little town of Churchill. In the morning, we made our way to the home of a local trapping couple, Jim and Betty. I learned a lot about their lives as trappers and how much they relied on the land for their source of income, and it gave me a new perspective on the lives of local townspeople. I learned that they had immense respect for the animals they harvested. Their stories showed how close the people of Churchill are to nature and how much they respect it.
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The second wild polar bear Rachel saw

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read her previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 1.

Imagine yourself in one of the most isolated places on Earth, where trees struggle to grow against the harsh arctic conditions. The wind blows across the ancient permafrost layers, and the majestic apex predator, the polar bear, roams free.
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Rachel, with one of our bears, before her trip.

Hello everybody,

Today, Sunday, October 10, I embarked on the trip of a lifetime. This morning, my facilitator, Kindra, and I headed north to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to study wild polar bears. As we arrived in Winnipeg after a long day of flights, I kept thinking “It’s finally here!” after many months waiting in anticipation. We were greeted by the other ambassadors and facilitators, and I couldn’t have been put with a nicer group.
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