The Polar Bear Project

The Polar Bear Project

Contact: Patrick Lampi (Executive Director) at plampi@alaskazoo.org

Phase 1: The Polar Bear Transition Center (image right)

  • Phase I: Completed in 2016.
  • The Transition Center will:
    • Provide a dedicated facility for the care of orphaned, abandoned or injured cubs coming from the North Slope
    • Be equipped with video monitoring capability
    • Provide holding den space for up to 6 polar bear cubs at a time
    • Provide a maternity den for resident polar bears
    • Update our current facility to today’s standards by adding a natural substrate area
    • Increase our ability to participate in research projects that may benefit the wild populations of polar bears
      • The zoo has a history of working with wildlife agencies, zoological facilities, universities and organizations to further the scientific knowledge and behavioral study of our animals. We are collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Clean Seas, Cincinnati and Memphis Zoos and the University of Alaska Anchorage on polar bear research.
  • Phase II will be the more "public side" of the project. This phase was planned to follow in quick succession after the completion of Phase I, however the economic climate of our state and funding challenges are sending us back to the drawing board in terms of a strategy and timeline. We must re-examine previous cost estimates and potentially revise our plans to make a realistic and successful approach moving forward. We will keep our supporters and donors updated as we develop these plans for Phase II.

Why did we undertake the Polar Bear Project in the first place?

This was the first major expansion project on an animal habitat at the Alaska Zoo in 15 years.  We were previously working on infrastructure projects such as the animal infirmary and commissary which serve all of the permanent and temporary residents of the zoo. We decided to move forward on this project for polar bears because of:

  • Increased global interest in polar bears
  • Increased behavioral choices for our polar bears by offering natural substrate areas and the ability to be separated. This would update our current facility to today's standards.
  • A need to add new genetic diversity to captive polar bears if our bears produce offspring
  • A need to increase capabilities to conduct research
  • A need to increase the zoo's capacity to four adult polar bears, three females and one male to assist in rescue operations for wild polar bears.

Thank you from your zoo family

We would like to thank all of the donors and supporters, from individuals to small businesses to corporations to foundations, who made Phase I become a reality for our zoo. We will forever be grateful for your contributions and we will keep you updated on our plans for Phase II as we proceed with developing a strategy for future funding.