Lincoln Park Zoo has announced their first-ever Polar Bear Awareness Week, Feb. 25-March 3, offering Chicago families a chance to learn more about the arctic creatures. With fewer than 25,000 polar bears left in the wild, the zoo hopes to help Chicagoans better understand the connection between their actions and the survival of the species.
"Lincoln Park Zoo is invested in high quality polar bear care here at the zoo as well as conservation of wild bears," said Vice President of Education Rachel Bergren. "We want to connect our guests to this species and inspire them to enact some changes in their day-to-day lives with polar bears in mind."
The changes can be as simple as cutting down on plastic bag use, biking to work, or using public transportation.
During Polar Bear Awareness Week, the zoo will host twice-daily activities at 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. featuring Anana the polar bear. Guests will have a chance to win free passes to see To the Arctic 3D at Navy Pier IMAX Theater as well. All Polar Bear Awareness Week activities are free and open to all zoo guests.
The zoo is also taking the campaign to Twitter. At 2 p.m. during each day of the week, they'll post a tip to help followers better understand how they can aid in conservation efforts.
"It is the principle of reduce, reuse, and recycle," said Bergren. "A large group cutting down on energy use in small ways can have an impact. People should feel empowered to help."
Lincoln Park Zoo itself implements many sustainable initiatives, including installation of green roofs, solar panels, energy-efficient lighting and retrofits, water-saving devices, and recycling opportunities for everything from paper, plastic and aluminum to cell phones. In 2012, the zoo became an Arctic Ambassador Center in partnership with renowned conservation organization Polar Bears International.
Brookfield Zoo is also helping to bring polar bears some attention this week. On Wednesday, Feb. 27, Polar Bear Day, Brookfield Zoo will have a variety of activities to educate visitors on the effects climate change can have on arctic animals.
In Hamill Family Play Zoo, kids can trace and decorate their carbon footprint, help miniature polar bear figures navigate on ice floes and listen to special zoo chats about Brookfield Zoo's polar bears. Hamill Family Play Zoo is free on Feb. 27 with zoo admission.
The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, will take part in the Thermostat Challange, sponsored by Polar Bears International, an effort to raise awareness about how daily actions impact polar bears and their icy habitat. CZS will lower the temperature of the zoo's indoor non-animal buildings by two degrees in order to reduce carbon emission son Polar Bear Day. CZS also encourages guests to participate in the challenge.