Cool New Bears Arrive at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Media Alert: Friday, February 19, 2010
Powell, OH – Twin polar bears, Aurora and Anana, arrived at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium this afternoon. The three-year-old females are the first residents of Polar Frontier, the Zoo’s newest attraction opening this spring.
The young bears were accompanied by animal care staff during their trip from the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium where they have lived since December 2008. They were born at the Toledo Zoo on November 25, 2006. The name “Aurora” is in reference to the northern polar lights and “Anana” is an Inuit word meaning “pretty”.
“The residents of central Ohio spoke and we listened”, noted Executive Director Dale Schmidt. “It’s been more than 20 years since polar bears were at the Columbus Zoo and they are back by popular demand. We can’t wait to share Polar Frontier with the community.”
Aurora and Anana’s new home includes a 1.32-acre yard with two pools, smell ports, dig pits and shelters. The still pool will be 167,000 gallons and include the David C. Goss Family Gallery where visitors can view the bears from above, at eye-level, and below. Imagine having a polar bear swimming over your head in Ohio! The other pool is a surge pool with a tidal effect, providing enrichment with various depths and moving water.
Polar Frontier represents a long-abandoned mining town and will draw guests into the Arctic Circle; connecting them to the animals that live in some of the coldest climates in the world. Polar Frontier will also provide new digs for the Zoo’s popular brown bears, Brutus and Buckeye, who came to the Columbus Zoo in 2004 after the orphaned cubs were found in Alaska. The new habitat for these growing and rambunctious boys will be an acre full of dig pits, deadfall trees, two shelters and a 42,000-gallon freshwater pool. Arctic fox will be new to the Columbus Zoo and their new Polar Frontier habitat is made possible by the generosity of the Ed and Ellen Klopfer family.
The Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, an interpretive center with engaging activities focusing on polar bears and climate change, will also provide guests information on ways to practice conservation at home -- joining the Columbus Zoo and their partner Polar Bears International in the effort to save the polar bear. A themed playground, presented by Nationwide who also provided support for the outdoor bear habitats, gives kids a chance to play while parents relax and enjoy their “cool” surroundings.
In addition to donor and corporate contributions, the $20-million attraction is made possible due to the generosity of Franklin County residents and funds raised through a county property tax levy.
Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are native to the circumpolar north including the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark (Greenland). They are at the top of the Arctic food chain and eat primarily seals. There is estimated to be 20,000-25,000 polar bears and populations are in decline due to the disappearance of sea ice. Some scientists believe that if the warming trend continues two-thirds of the polar bear population could disappear by the year 2050.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. after Labor Day. General admission is $12 for adults, $7 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Zoo admission is half-price during the months of January and February 2010. 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.