Happy International Polar Bear Day! Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) were listed as a threatened species on May 15, 2008 and with their shrinking numbers. I'm happy to help spread the word about two charities that are working to ensure that polar bears, as a species, survive.
Polar Bears International got its start as Polar Bears Alive (PBA), a conservation organization founded by wildlife photographer Dan Guravich in 1992. In 2002 PBA officially became Polar Bears International (PBI), the leading polar bear conservation organization in the world. PBI focuses on combating climate change to protect polar bears and the sea ice they call home.
You can donate directly to the organization or adopt a polar bear. Don't worry, a fuzzy white polar bear cub won't show up at your door, this is a symbolic adoption. Polar bear adoptions start at $30 and include a copy of Tundra Times magazine. This would make a perfect gift for the polar bear lover in your life.
You can also adopt a polar bear through the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The entry-level adoption kit is $25 and includes an adoption certificate, photo and species information card. For a $250 polar bear adoption donation you will receive a giant plush panda.
The WWF also works to protect sea ice. "Between late April and mid-July, polar bears hunt ringed and bearded seals on the sea ice. As a result of climate change, sea ice is melting earlier and forming later each year, leaving polar bears less time to hunt. As their ice habitat shrinks, skinnier and hungrier bears face a grave challenge to their survival."
You can also donate to the WWF via the organization's partnership with Coca-Cola, Arctic Home. Donations made through Arctic Home will help the WWF survey polar bear populations, model future ice conditions, collect knowledge from the native Inuit people, begin Last Ice Area management discussions and support additional polar bear work.