Zoo Animals

Polar Bear
Detroit Zoo - Polar Bear

Polar bear

Ursus maritimus

At the Detroit Zoo

Visitors can watch two polar bears gracefully swim above their heads in the Arctic Ring of Life’s 70-foot-long Frederick and Barbara Erb Polar Passage. Female Suka, 5, arrived in 2018 to be paired with male Nuka, 13, as part of an Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan. Nuka arrived in 2011.

The polar bears’ habitat includes grassy tundra, a freshwater pool, a “pack ice” area and a 190,000-gallon salt water pool. The Arctic Ring of Life is one of North America’s largest polar bear habitats, and also houses seals and arctic foxes. This state-of-the-art, interactive facility encompasses more than 4 acres of outdoor and indoor habitats and was named the second-best exhibit at any zoo in the U.S. by The Intrepid Traveler’s guide to America’s Best Zoos.

The polar bear has a dense, thick undercoat of skin protected by an outer coat of long, transparent fur. The sun’s reflection from the dark skin through the transparent fur gives the illusion of a white coat. Its waterproof fur will stick together when wet and act as an insulator.

Fun Facts

  • Because it receives liquids from the prey it eats, the polar bear does not have to drink water.

  • The polar bear is a marine mammal and the most carnivorous member of the bear family since its diet heavily relies on seals.

  • A polar bear's blubber helps it float in water and also acts as a nutritional reserve, allowing the bear to go months without eating.

  • The polar bear has the richest milk of any bear species; it contains 35 percent fat.