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 was born in 2013 and arrived at the Detroit Zoo in 2018 to be paired with male Nuka, who was born in 2004 and arrived at the Zoo in 2011. The pairing is part of an Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan, a cooperative population management and conservation program that works to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species.

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.

Polar bears have dense, thick undercoats of skin protected by outer coats of long, transparent fur. The sun’s reflection from the dark skin through the transparent fur gives the illusion of a white coat. Their 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.