Powell, OH - Columbus Zoo Program Planning Director Barbara Revard will travel to the tundra near Churchill, Manitoba, Canada in October to participate in a Leadership Camp sponsored by Polar Bears International (PBI), a conservation group. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, is part of PBI’s network of Arctic Ambassador Center Zoos and Revard will be joining other animal care staff, educators and public relations professionals from around the U.S. and Canada.
Having the chance to see polar bears in their natural habitat – and to learn first-hand about arctic climate-warming – is a transformative experience for Leadership Camp students. The goal of the camp is to inspire, inform, and empower zoo professionals who are advocates for environmental stewardship in their home communities.
“Zoos reach a wide audience with their conservation messages,” said Robert Buchanan, PBI president. “These representatives will spend a week on the tundra during the fall polar bear migration on the shores of Hudson Bay. They stay at the Tundra BuggyÒ Lodge – with polar bears just outside – to learn about polar bears, climate change, and how each of us can help. From this remote location, they stay connected to the rest of the world through their blog at polarbearsinternational.org. Before returning home, each Ambassador creates an individual action plan to help reduce CO2 in their community.”
In November Columbus Zoo Keeper Alicia Shelley will return to Churchill for the fourth year in a row to serve as an Ambassador – talking to guests who come from all over the world about polar bear research, conservation and education programs being conducted by Polar Bears International and accredited zoos such as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
Churchill’s polar bears, part of the Western Hudson Bay population, draw visitors from around the world during their fall migration. Every summer, these bears are driven ashore when the ice on the bay melts, taking away their seal-hunting grounds. They spend the next few months resting and fasting. As cold weather returns, they begin to gather on the shore near Churchill to wait for the ice to form.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium was invited to send representatives to the camp because of its role as a PBI Arctic Ambassador Center Zoo. These centers focus on animal well-being and enrichment, take a leadership role in stewardship and carbon reduction efforts in their communities, and participate in PBI polar bear research efforts. Many also help support polar bear conservation through the PBI Polar Bear Sustainability Alliance.
“Outreach by institutions such as the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium make an enormous difference in motivating the public,” Buchanan said. “If we are serious about conserving polar bears and their ecosystem we need to act quickly, and our Arctic Ambassador Center Zoos and Leadership Camps play an important role in inspiring change.”
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a long-term supporter of Polar Bears International. In 2009, the Zoo’s Conservation Grants Program and Partners in Conservation awarded more than $1 million in program support for 70 conservation projects in 35 countries. Over the past five years, the Zoo has distributed $4 million in support. This money is raised from restricted donations, conservation fundraisers, and coins donated by Zoo visitors.
In May 2010 the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium opened Polar Frontier which represents a long-abandoned mining town and draws guests into the Arctic Circle; connecting them to the animals that live in some of the coldest climates in the world including polar bears, brown bears and Arctic fox.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org.
Polar Bears International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of the polar bear and its habitat through research, stewardship, and education. Visit their web site to learn more about their mission and the upcoming 2010 Leadership Camps at www.polarbearsinternational.org.
Frontiers North’s Tundra Buggy® Adventure (FNA) is a PBI Platinum-level corporate partner that has sponsored PBI Leadership Camps since their inception. FNA provides authentic adventures in Canada’s north and boasts the best access in the world to wild polar bears. Since 1987, FNA has created programs geared to accommodate small groups of travelers with specific interests in experiential travel, photography, culture and adventure. Visit their web site at www.frontiersnorth.org.