Activity 4A: Focus

Trees on the Churchill shoreline in fall with snow

Photo: Simon Gee

PBI Arctic Ambassador Centers

Let’s talk polar bears—and explore how we can work together to ensure their future across the Arctic

Polar Bears International has long had a highly effective secret weapon: The zoos and aquariums in our Arctic Ambassador Center (AAC) Network amplify our outreach on climate change and how we can work together on solutions. They also work to set high standards for polar bears in zoos, regularly participating in zoo-based conservation science and continually striving to improve the overall well-being of the animals in their care. At PBI, we strive to bring partners together and encourage science with direct conservation applications. We also understand the value that cooperative training has in balancing animal welfare with meaningful science.

There are currently 50 zoos and aquariums in the AAC Network, from 25 U.S States, 4 Canadian provinces, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and France. Our overarching goal is to keep all members of the network engaged in the same outcomes so that we can have a greater collective impact! 

How Does Polar Bears International work with different Institutions?

AAC Network members are connected to valuable ideas, programs, resources and information, and other network members. Polar Bears International and member institutions work together within the network and with other partners and working groups to share information, build trust and lasting bonds among colleagues and institutions, share and implement effective ways to engage audiences in learning about polar bears and climate change, build public support to transition away from fossil fuels for energy, and continue to innovate and develop new programs to lead our institutions and communities in reducing CO2 emissions.

PBI provides AACs with an opportunity to participate in research, education, and action programs that address the key issues polar bears face in a warming Arctic. Each AAC commits to participating in at least one #SaveOurSeaIce social media campaign and event on grounds annually. They also commit to participating in one other PBI program each year and to sharing these opportunities with their membership, including the Climate Alliance Program, Tundra Connections, and LIVE cams.

We couldn't be more grateful to the AACs for their commitment to:

  • Educating the public about climate change and solutions

  • Providing leadership for carbon emission reductions in their communities by spearheading community and institutional efforts to reduce CO2

  • Participating in advocacy efforts

  • Participating in ex situ research studies that would be impossible to conduct on polar bears in the wild—but have important implications for their wild counterparts

  • Providing funding support for in situ research projects and the bear tracker program

  • Meeting, or demonstrating progress towards meeting, the standards for polar bears as described in the AZA Animal Care Manual and other standards set by AZA, CAZA, and EAZA

Thank You!

PBI is happy to communicate with AACs in the manner that works best!  Each is a little different, but we LOVE it when institutions form an internal AAC team, consisting of Climate Alliance alumni and other staff interested in preserving a future for polar bears.  So, what does that look like?  Typically, each institution names an official institutional team lead or POC and creates a team from there. Since we alternate our target audience for Climate Alliance between Educators, Keepers, and Communications staff – teams end up having one or more staff from each department – because we are stronger TOGETHER!

Do you know who is on your AAC team? How many of them have participated in the PBI Climate Alliance Program?

To Do!

Please check this item off of your to-do list no later than June 6th.

  1. Please take a moment to document your institution's official POC (reach out to Marissa if you don't know), any PBI Climate Alliance or Leadership Camp alumni at your institution, any NNOCCI alumni at your institution, and any other members of your internal AAC team – these are your support system!  Then, write an email introducing yourself to your team. Let them know what your program looks like this year and that you have been tasked with thinking about how you can contribute to the team.

Each participant is to create an action plan using your knowledge and skills, and role within your AAC, to contribute to individual institutions and the broader PBI and NNOCCI alumni communities. What are you good at? Where do you want to challenge yourself? What existing programs exist that you can enhance? What new programs would you like to implement? What areas do you have influence over within your organization/community?  How can you support outreach and communications within your institution?This could be facilitating workshops at your institution ,working together with your AAC team to incorporate framing into your  work – enhancing interpretives, framing keeper talk scripts, social media outreach, other media outreach, etc...


Start to think about what you might like to do and don’t hesitate to reach out to Marissa or the cohort for input.

Aerial view of mud flats in Churchill

Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer / Polar Bears International


Continue on to Activity 4B–Explore.