Polar bears get an upgrade at Lincoln Park Zoo - FOX 32 News Chicago

Polar bears get an upgrade at Lincoln Park Zoo

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(Chicago Zoological Society) (Chicago Zoological Society)
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Lincoln Park Zoo announced last week it will expand the current polar bear exhibit in order to accommodate a breeding pair of bears.

The goal is to breed future bear cubs to boost the population of the threatened species, a release from the zoo said.

"Polar bears have a long tradition here at Lincoln Park Zoo," said Steve Thompson of Lincoln Park Zoo. "We are committed to caring for polar bears and have so for 130 years."

When the current polar bear exhibit was created more than 30 years ago it was considered state-of-the-art, Thompson explained. But more recent biological and behavioral research collected on the bears has revealed a wealth of new information about polar bears, leaving the previous technology outdated.

"The new habitat is being designed based on the latest scientific research which indicates more land is better than water-dominated space," Thompson said. "Lincoln Park Zoo has always been a leader in animal care and welfare and will continue to use science to guide our plans to ensure we provide the most enriching environment possible for wildlife while also enhancing the guest experience and providing new and novel opportunities for visitors to learn about animals at the zoo."

The new habitat will provide more access to water, more land space with softer substrate and a variety of terrain to give the animals a more diverse environment, the release said. The landscaping will be modeled to resemble the Arctic tundra, mimicking the animals' habitat in the wild.

The habitat will offer zoo visitors nose-to-nose views, according to the release. The enclosure will also include a den will allowing mothers to stay with their cubs in quiet surroundings, like in the wild.

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