International Polar Bear Day shines a spotlight on the incredible bears of the Arctic and the dedicated conservationists working to protect them.
Here at the Zoo, the Indianapolis Prize team celebrates this special day by recognizing conservationists who have worked to save this amazing species.
As a world-renowned polar bear biologist, Dr. Steven Amstrup — Winner of the 2012 Indianapolis Prize and chief scientist at Polar Bears International — led the international team of researchers that prepared the nine reports that became the basis for listing polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Amstrup strives to increase awareness for polar bear conservation.
An issue polar bears face today is the loss of sea ice. According to Amstrup, polar bears heavily rely on sea ice for survival as it affects their movement and some aspects of reproduction. The depletion of sea ice severely dangers the polar bear population and raises concerns for long-term conservation.
“Sea ice loss is driven by the warming of the world, brought about by burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other poor land uses, as well as the unsustainable choices we all make at the market,” Amstrup said. “Fighting sea ice loss, and the temperature rise that is causing it, requires all of us to change how we live, how we transport ourselves and ultimately where we get our energy.
This conservationist’s passion for these animals is evident. Since his childhood, Amstrup has had an interest in bears. Even after more than three decades in the field, his fascination for polar bears remains.
“I’ve been working with polar bears for 35 years now and every time I see them it’s, ‘holy cow there’s a real wild polar bear.'”
Amstrup’s continual concern for polar bears and hard work has ultimately led him to his successes as a conservationist.
So what can you do to join Amstrup in protecting these famed white bears?
According to Polar Bears International, it’s a simple as altering transportation methods such as riding a bike or using public transportation instead of a car. Pay attention to how much water you’re using and make sure to turn appliances off when done. Finally, encourage family and friends to adopt sustainable lifestyles as well.