Parties and Planning
As you’ve likely seen, polar bear Anana will soon be leaving Lincoln Park Zoo to make her home at North Carolina Zoo.
Like every animal transfer, this isn’t a move we make lightly. But Anana’s departure is a necessary step in creating a state-of-the-art Polar Bear Habitat, one designed to reflect the latest research about the needs of this threatened cold-weather predator.
Polar bears are facing a crisis in the wild as climate change reduces Arctic ice, removing the very platform this species relies on to hunt and thrive. Recognizing the crisis, North American zoos are coming together under the umbrella of the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan® to help conserve polar bears.
But the unique needs of these massive marine mammals—large exhibits, spacious pools—demand a substantial investment. The zoo’s new Polar Bear and Penguin Habitats, which will begin construction this fall, will cost $22 million to complete.
The results will be worth it, of course. The new Polar Bear Habitat will feature tundra terrain to roam over, a cave for summer cooldowns and the ability to be divided into two exhibits: a must for hoped-for cubs down the road.
Many friends of the zoo have asked if Anana will come back to Lincoln Park Zoo once the new exhibit is completed. The honest answer is that we don’t know. That decision will be made down the road as part of the regular planning process by the Polar Bear Species Survival Plan. And that’s as it should be.
The Polar Bear Species Survival Plan—and similar plans for hundreds of other threatened species—brings together zoos and aquariums throughout North America to make the matches and moves that are best for zoo populations as a whole. Every change is guided by scientists at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Population Management Center, which is headquartered at Lincoln Park Zoo. These experts analyze family trees, review available space and evaluate the overall health of a population to make the best possible recommendations.
If Anana’s return is what’s best for the polar bear population as a whole when the new habitat is complete, then she’ll likely come back. But if another move is the best one, we’ll be happy to make that as well. Ultimately, like our partners throughout North America, we want to do what’s best for each zoo population as a whole.
That being said, everyone at the zoo will miss Anana when she leaves, especially the animal care experts who take care of her every day of the year. It’s tough to say goodbye to an animal who’s been a beloved part of the zoo for 13 years. But to ensure everyone has a chance, we’ve arranged a special Polar Bear Farewell Party this Saturday, August 23. Come by from 10 a.m–noon to sign a farewell banner for Anana, see her enjoy special enrichment and hear polar bear chats from our educators. It should be a fun celebration of Anana’s time at the zoo.
We’re sad to see her go, but we’re excited for what’s coming next. And who knows…we may see Anana here again.
Update: This post initially had the correct day but incorrect date for Anana's farewell party. It is Saturday, August 23.
Post from the President—Penguin (and Polar) Plans
Field Note: Polar Bear
All About Anana