Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International

Roger Williams Park Zoo's Chris Hitchener at Polar Bears International.
RWP Zoo's Chris Hitchener in Manitoba, with a wild polar bear in the background.

Polar Bears International



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RWP Zoo: Arctic Ambassador Center

Polar Bears International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its habitat though research and education. PBI provides scientific resources and information on polar bears and their habitat to all interested parties. As part of PBI’s efforts, they have established a network of Arctic Ambassador Centers at more than 30 zoos and aquariums throughout North America and the world. Roger Williams Park Zoo has been an Arctic Ambassador Center since 2004.

Why do Zoos work with PBI?

Zoos play an important role in helping the scientists working in the wild with polar bears near Hudson Bay in Canada. The scientists ask zoos to test possible solutions for a growing number of problems they are seeing due to the melting of the ice caps. Instead of roaming out on ice packs to hunt for seals, polar bears now have to wait longer and longer for the ice to form. So, they are lingering near human communities, searching for food. Zoo keepers and curators provide information, methods, and resources for residents to help them to live safely with polar bears until the ice packs form so the bears can resume their annual hunt. Zoo keepers also help to develop protocols to respond to orphaned cubs and malnourished bears with veterinary care and supplemental feedings. This is a great example of how captive polar bear programs can benefit the sustainability of wild populations.

In return, Zoo Curators and keepers network with PBI and other Arctic Ambassador centers to learn the latest husbandry science and enrichment methods for captive polar bears. Zoo education staff members often incorporate the latest information from PBI to enhance education programs, family programs, special events. 

What has RWP Zoo been doing to help?

Roger Williams Park Zoo has been working with PBI since 2004 to educate people about the effects of global climate change on the world’s polar bear population. Here are some of our recent activities.