Pittsburgh Zoo welcomes polar bears

The Pittsburgh Zoo’s newest exhibit, Water’s Edge, features a fictional pier town complete with boats, fish markets, and houses. It’s also the new home of a pair of polar bears.

The exhibit’s goals are to educate its visitors as well as provide the bears with a suitable habitat. Water’s Edge contains three primary exhibits, featuring pairs of polar bears, sea lions, and sea otters.

The exhibit contains facts such as how polar bears can travel at rates up to 25 miles an hour, and that a male polar bear can reach a weight of more than 1500 pounds. A sign listing Pier Town’s population statistics shows an increase in the human population directly correlating to a decrease in the polar bear population. Likewise, the exhibit provides facts about the living situation of polar bears in the wild.

Polar bears are specifically studied by scientists because they function as the top predators in the Arctic and are the largest land carnivores. As stated by the zoo, it is more important now than ever before to study, conserve, and assist arctic populations because of the direct effects of global warming on their habitat. Polar bears, which are marine mammals, are affected by global warming because they live primarily on sea ice. However, they are also affected by pollutants in the arctic regions because of their high position on the food chain; pollutants ingested by smaller organisms are eventually ingested by the polar bears.

Water’s Edge wraps around the front of the aquarium. The exhibit allows viewers to see the polar bears from multiple angles, with a huge landscape of rocks and pools of water, as well as an underwater tunnel for viewing the polar bears from below as they swim overhead.

Water’s Edge was designed with the intention of creating a realistic and natural setting for the polar bears. When construction is finished, the zoo will add two walruses to the exhibit.