Zoo Animals

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 Talini was born at the Detroit Zoo in 2004. She can be identified by the scar on her nose. Male Nuka, also born in 2004, arrived in 2011 as a potential mate for Talini. He is the largest of the two.

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 over 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.