Field researchers set up a solar panel at a den-monitoring site in Svalbard.

BJ Kirschhoffer, foreground, our director of field operations, sets up a solar panel at a polar bear den-monitoring site in Svalbard.

© Dr. Megan Owen/San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

7/16/2021 5:55:21 PM

Ouwehands Zoo Foundation Supports Research

By Janet Stringer

We’re pleased to announce the ongoing grant support of the Ouwehands Zoo Foundation to help fund long-term polar bear den research in Svalbard, Norway, a project we conduct in partnership with the Norwegian Polar Institute and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

For the past six years, the Ouwehands Zoo has been a committed partner in this important research effort, which is focused on understanding polar bear behavior during the den-emergence period. The data is helping to provide information about the health and well-being of polar bears in the Barents Sea population.

“Long-term monitoring is important to fully understand the changes happening in polar bear populations,” says BJ Kirschhoffer, director of field operations at Polar Bears International. “It’s only through long-term studies that we can see trends in when polar bear families first emerge from their dens, how long they remain in the area before heading to the sea ice to hunt their seal prey, and what their activity levels are like. We’re also able to track the body condition of  moms and cubs over time, which is especially important as the climate continues to warm.”

This information will help guide resources and management to protect bears across the Arctic and contribute to their ongoing protection.

The Ouwehands Zoo, based in the Netherlands, is a valued member of our Arctic Ambassador Center network, which includes zoos and aquariums in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The Ouwehands Zoo Foundation continues to be a valuable partner in this research, providing resources to help monitor den sites. Their support has allowed Polar Bears International researchers to improve camera systems, storage, and energy requirements, which aligns with our mission to reduce carbon and save the sea ice that polar bears require.

Polar Bears international would like to offer our deep gratitude to the Ouwehands Zoo for their dedication to preserving polar bears and their Arctic habitats and for their generous support of this vital polar bear den research program.

Janet Stringer is the senior manager of philanthropy at Polar Bears International.

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