Monday, December 3, 2007

Polar Bear Plunge

I took Ryan to the zoo on Saturday to surprise him with the Polar Bear Plunge!! They added snow to the polar bear area (for one day only) and polar bears are his favorite. Here is the article, but make sure you check out all my pictures of the bears playing in the snow on My Photo Page.

A tundra in San Diego
At first thought, a polar bear in sunny San Diego seems curiously out of place. But with the San Diego Zoo's Polar Bear Plunge , you'll discover that polar bears are right at home, where every day is an Arctic summer day.

This exhibit brings the Arctic tundra south to San Diego, with Siberian reindeer, Pallas' cats, northern birds, and native plants, along with polar bears. The focal point of the exhibit is, naturally, the Plunge. From the underwater viewing room you can see how agile and playful the polar bears really are. In fact, they're known to swim right up to the glass to check out all the humans on display.

Outdoor viewing follows the water level up to the beach area, where a herd of reindeer can also be viewed in the background. A large moat separates the polar bears from the reindeer, but from the visitor's viewpoint, the whole exhibit looks like one enclosure. A large sandbox and open spaces on the banks of the Plunge also allow the bears to dig around or maybe take a nap—just like they would in the wild.

Some of the most popular animals in Polar Bear Plunge are not big and white. They're not even furry. They're the diving ducks, such as buffleheads, smews, and eiders, and you can find them by looking for a crowd of people in front of the aviary with the chilled pond and underwater viewing window.

Polar Bear Plunge is one of the largest polar bear exhibits in the world. It's wet and it's wild—polar bear style!

Fun facts

**The Zoo received its first polar bear in 1917. It was displayed in a cage. In 1926 a new polar bear grotto was complete, one of the world's first barless enclosures.
**Polar Bear Plunge is one of the largest polar bear exhibits in the world.
**Snow is added to the polar bears' exhibit for special occasions. The bears enjoy playing on the white stuff, slipping, sliding, and even eating it!
**The duck pond is chilled to 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 15 degrees Celsius)—very comfortable for these arctic residents.

Here is a little video I took of the polar bears:

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