We believe polar bears should be in the wild. However, if their life depends on being in human care, we should make it the best it can possibly be, and learn everything we can so we can help sustain their future existence. Not only is research in a polar bear’s natural habitat extremely expensive, many research projects are only possible in a controlled environment. As animal care professionals, we believe the public deserves a more compelling reason for the habitats existence than just being a pretty place for polar bears. Our research projects, along with our commitment to raising their standard of care, drives the passion behind our continued evolution.
York University – Dr. Greg Thieman, Toronto Zoo – Jaap Wensvoort
Inukshuk and Ganuk were given a singular diet of seal for a period over several months. In the wild, it would be impossible to guarantee what a polar bear ingests over that period of time. Tissue and blood samples were taken after a determined amount of time to identify indictors (signature) of seal being consumed. Since researchers are now able to identify the seal signature in polar bears tissue, this information can be used the in field to track seal distribution and population numbers through wild polar bear samples.
Whisker Print Project
C. J. R. Anderson, J. D. Roth, J. M. Waterman Department of Biology, University of Central Florida
Whisker prints are as unique as fingerprints. The Whisker Print project analyzes polar bears’ whisker print patterns in a non invasive manner. The prints are used to identify individual bears, and to identify if environmental stressors cause asymmetric patterns in the whisker patterns in polar bears. Both Henry and Ganuk’s whisker patterns are sent in and analyzed monthly.
Katrina Knott, M.S., Ph.D. Memphis Zoo
Weekly urine samples were sent to Memphis zoo to be analyzed for testosterone levels. Results showed that polar bears with the lowest testosterone levels were found in Canada. However, Inukshuk showed the highest levels of testosterone of any bears tested in North America.
Erin Curry, PhD Reproductive Physiologist, Terri Roth PhD, Vice President of CREW
This ongoing study analyzes fecal samples from Henry to study sexual maturation from a young age. Samples are sent biannually to Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
Animal Care Staff PBH
Daily Behavioural Logs are documents throughout the day on each bear at PBH. This information is used to create and manage behavioural plans. We are able to enhance their lives by understanding how the bears behave to different food, toys, weather and enclosures.
Animal Care Staff
Daily training sessions are done with our bears, to open communication and understand the bears behaviour with our animal care staff. Medical checks are performed on our bears to inspect for cuts or lacerations anywhere on the body, check teeth for any dental problems and to test mobility through commands. We are currently working towards having our bears perform procedures that would normally be performed while sedated. Our bears would remain completely conscious while preforming voluntary blood draws, swabs, injections and other non invasive procedures to gain more information about polar bears.