$15 million polar bear habitat to open at Lincoln Park Zoo

$15 million polar bear habitat to open at Lincoln Park Zoo

 Lincoln Park Zoo Announces Opening Date for New Polar Bear Exhibit

Winter is coming early to Lincoln Park Zoo when their new Walter Family Arctic Tundra exhibit opens for public viewing on November 17.

The $15 million facility replaces the zoo’s considerably small polar bear enclosure, which closed in 2014.

The 11,000 plus square-foot exhibit features a winding stream, waterfall and dive pools teeming with more than 49,900 gallons of water.

Photo: Courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo

Photo: Courtesy of Lincoln Park Zoo

The space contains digging areas, a commercial ice machine and a behind-the-scenes denning area to accommodate potential cubs.

The Walter Family Arctic Tundra will also teach visitors about the detrimental impacts of climate change on this sea ice-dependent carnivore.

Walter Family Arctic Tundra illuminates the great responsibility we must assume in order to preserve wildlife and our planet,” said Senior Vice President Megan Ross, Ph.D. “As civilizations continue to produce more carbon dioxide emissions, heat is trapped around the world and sea ice—on which polar bears rely for hunting and breeding—melts. We hope that visitors connect with this species so that they are inspired to make environmentally-conscious changes.”

Initially one male polar bear will inhabit the exhibit with plans in the works for a female bear to join him this winter.

“There’s no species as well-equipped for its environment as the polar bear and as such, we designed Walter Family Arctic Tundra to emulate the bear’s natural habitat to elicit species-specific behaviors,” said General Curator Dave Bernier. “I’m thrilled to, again, be able to share the fascinating world of polar bears with Lincoln Park Zoo guests and I’m proud of the zoo’s dedication to conserving them in the wild, in partnership with Polar Bears International.”

https://us.vocuspr.com/Publish/535436/vcsPRAsset_535436_123589_2abac55f-2396-4c92-a32a-56ef4618b6de_0.jpgThe outdoor exhibit features four immersive viewing areas:

An underwater area with a redesigned split-view giving guests a simultaneous glimpse of water and land from the same vantage point.

Guests can cool off in the ice cave area with a tactile ice wall and air cooling mechanism.

At the south shelter, there is a 10 square-foot training wall, where, upon bear acclimation, guests can witness keepers conducting positive reinforcement training sessions with the polar bear to provide enrichment and enable the bear to participate in its own welfare.

On the northernmost end of the zoo, an open-air overlook enables guests to see the winding stream and varied terrain.

The zoo is open year round, so make sure to put the November 17 grand opening date for the Walter Family Arctic Tundra on your calendar and while you are there check out the newly opened African Penguin Exhibit.

Click here to see pictures and video of the new resident polar bear, Siku at play in his new home.


Lincoln Park Zoo, a historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, is dedicated to connecting people with nature by providing a free, family-oriented wildlife experience. A leader in conservation science both globally and locally, the zoo exemplifies the highest quality animal care and educational outreach. The not-for-profit zoo, managed by The Lincoln Park Zoological Society, is a member-supported organization and one of the nation’s only free, privately managed zoos. For more information, call 312 -742-2000 or visit lpzoo.org.

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