Intelligence is the ability to learn and our polar bears at the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat are unbelievable motivators for learning! Whether we Skype in, present to students at our facility, or come to your school, there is program for everyone.
The Australian – Canadian Polar Bear Ambassador Program links two schools across hemispheres, climates and time zones to create a shared awareness of Polar bear conservation and climate change. Henry the Polar bear’s relocation from Sea World, Australia to the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat, Canada was the catalyst for this connection. He has been symbolically adopted as a classroom ambassador by Coomera Rivers Primary School and a Cochrane, Ontario, Canada school.
Through Henry, these schools are learning about the differences in geography, environments, effects of climate change, culture, and conservation issues between the “great white north” and the “land down under”.
Animal Care Education Program
The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat offers students, teachers and groups the chance to better understand the life of a polar bear animal care worker and the integral role captive polar bears play in understanding the polar bear species.
This program allows students to experience a day-in-the-life of an animal care member. Students will be asked to keep behavioural logs, prepare daily diets along with supplements, create enrichments, clean enclosures and work in an exciting environment.
Climate Change Education Program
The Polar Bear Habitat is dedicated to the care of polar bears in captivity and the protection of polar bears in the wild. Climate change is dramatically affecting northern communities and the arctic. Northern communities are able to witness these changes in their environment, and in turn are negatively affected. Climate change also has a large negative impact on polar bear populations all over the world.
To help polar bears we must understand exactly what climate change is. This requires analysis of daily, monthly and yearly patterns caused by the weather. This program will help facilitate discussion and teach students different methods of monitoring their environment.
Students will be educated through classes on environmental subjects such as climate change. This lesson plan enables children to virtually interact, and be involved with the polar bears at our habitat from the classroom. Students will also actively participate in environmental monitoring and are encouraged to discuss other important factors to monitor with community members and elders.
We intend to include GIS and GPS mapping methods for data input, in partnership with CreeGeo Mushkegowuk Information Services. These methods will build a virtual map of your local area, and exact points for monitoring.
Terra Cycle Waste Collection Program
Greenhouse gases from landfills contribute to the warming of the earth’s climate. This is melting the arctic sea ice which is vital to the polar bear’s lifecycle, including hunting, mating, and rearing cubs. In partnership with Terra Cycle, we work with local schools in Cochrane, Ontario to promote everyday actions that reduce waste and minimize the carbon footprint of students to help polar bears in the wild survive.
Terra Cycle reuses waste that is typically non-recyclable through most municipal waste management programs. The PBH has signed up for an electronic waste collection as well as a cookie and cracker wrapper collection with Terra Cycle, and has set up collection boxes for these items at local Cochrane schools. The program comes at no cost to the participating schools and is a great opportunity to expose students to a real world solution that diverts waste going to landfill and allows them to get involved in the process.
When you’re having fun your life is enriched. That’s why in the animal care world, activities and items that stimulate, educate, or engage our charges are called enrichments. Creating enrichments for polar bears specifically can be a daunting task. Polar bears are known to get bored easily because of their intelligence and curiosity and they quickly tire of the same activities.
Our enrichment program was created to not only tap into a new idea resource, but to teach the process of trial-and-error and the evolution of ideas to students. Students who participate in the program get to come up with their own activities and ideas from a list of available items and tools with guidance from our Bear Keepers. They then get to watch the polar bears react and interact with the fruit of their labours via video.
Through measurable goals and Skype interactions with polar bears and the Bear Keepers, we find students are very motivated to learn more about polar bears, their environmental challenges and how we can all help achieve their sustainable future. The class is delivered over a one-week period, but can be customized to accommodate your curriculum and lesson plans.
“I love this project and it is my second year offering this program to my students in grade 5. I found my students were engaged, happy and excited. They were thrilled to see the bear live in action and were amazed that they could create an enrichment that would actually be used for the bears!” -Allison Whately-Doucet