Silver Spring, MD – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and Polar Bears International (PBI) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to educate zoo and aquarium visitors on the impacts of climate change on polar bears and their habitat.
“The arctic ecosystem is at a tipping point for polar bears, and we need to make a real difference within the next five years to avoid damage to that ecosystem that may take hundreds of years to repair,” said Robert Buchanan, President of Polar Bears International. “The partnership between Polar Bears International and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums maximizes PBI’s resources and AZA’s educational reach to help create the greatest generation of conservationists the world has ever seen.”
“The people of Polar Bears International are leading the fight to save polar bears and their habitat,” said Jim Maddy, President and CEO of AZA. “Their tireless work on the tundra, their constant drive to educate people, and their work in forming partnerships with governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations are a ray of hope for polar bears and all wildlife affected by climate change.”
The MOU between AZA and PBI creates a partnership with the goal of developing and implementing a plan to connect people attending zoos and aquariums to the impacts of climate change on polar bears and on the arctic ecosystem on which they depend. PBI is providing funding, resources, educational programming and guest speakers, including the world’s leading polar bear scientists, to the zoos in order to create or enhance educational Arctic displays. AZA is committing to utilize these resources to grow stewardship in their communities and increase research which may assist in the conservation of polar bears in the wild.
“Zoos and aquariums are a critical educational force for the future survival of the species. Currently, 180 million people visit AZA-accredited institutions each year – people who already care about animals and who need to know what must be done to conserve them in the wild,” Buchanan added. “Most people will never see polar bears in their native habitat, which is why seeing them in zoos can be such a powerful experience. Unless we can inspire people to lower their carbon footprint and reverse the climate change that is causing arctic sea ice to melt, zoos will be among the few places where polar bears will survive.”
Polar Bears International is a non-profit organization dedicated to the worldwide conservation of polar bears and their habitat through research and education. For more information, visit www.polarbearsinternational.org.
Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit 501c(3) organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, the AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats.
There are currently 32 AZA-accredited zoos in North America where people can experience the majesty of polar bears, listed below. Find an AZA-accredited institution near you.
Albuquerque Biological Park
Central Park Zoo
Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Henry Vilas Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Milwaukee County Zoo
North Carolina Zoo
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Parque Zoologico de Leon
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
Reid Park Zoo
San Diego Zoo
San Francisco Zoo
SeaWorld San Diego
Seneca Park Zoo
Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum
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