WHAT: The highly anticipated new Polar Frontier attraction at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium opens on Thursday, May 6, 2010.
WHO: In addition to Zoo staff and board members, Dr. Tom Smith, a polar bear maternal den expert with conservation group Polar Bears International (PBI), will attend the opening and is available for interviews. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium provides financial support for Dr. Smith’s study in Alaska as well as the field research of Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, another PBI Advisory Council scientist.
WHEN: A ribbon cutting ceremony begins at 10 a.m. and Polar Frontier will open to the public immediately after the ceremony.
WHERE: Media should come to the Zoo’s Business Office located on Jerry Borin Trace north of the Zoo. Zoo staff will be available to assist with getting everyone to Polar Frontier and arrange interviews. Please call in advance so we can escort you to the location as quickly as possible.
WHY: Polar Frontier represents a long-abandoned mining town and draws guests into the Arctic Circle; connecting them to the animals that live in some of the coldest climates in the world including polar bears, brown bears and Arctic fox.
The polar bear habitat for three-year-old sisters “Aurora” and “Anana” features a 1.32-acre yard with two pools including a still pool that is 167,000 gallons and offers viewing of the bears from above, at eye-level, and below in the David C. Goss Family Gallery. The other pool is a surge pool with a tidal effect with various depths and moving water. Dig pits and smell ports also provide enrichment.
Polar Frontier also provides new digs for the Zoo’s popular brown bears, “Brutus” and Buckeye”, who came to the Columbus Zoo in 2004 after the orphaned cubs were found in Alaska. The new habitat for these growing and rambunctious boys is an acre full of dig pits, deadfall trees, two shelters and a 42,000-gallon freshwater pool.
The Arctic fox habitat is home to two-year-old brother and sister “Ice” and “Anana” and one-year-old brothers “Cassius” and “Brutus”. The habitat, made possible by a financial gift from the Ed and Ellen Klopfer family, represents a garden shed that sits against the abandoned mine and includes an outdoor yard and indoor den with visitor viewing at both locations.
The Polar Playground, presented by Nationwide Insurance who also provided support for the outdoor bear habitats, gives kids an opportunity to play while parents relax and enjoy their “cool” surroundings. Kids can begin their make believe Arctic adventure by checking the forecast from inside the weather station then sliding down to a tundra buggy to drive to their destination. After departing the tundra buggy they can hop from one piece of sea ice to another to areas where they can build an igloo, slide down a snow bank with a polar bear family or play on an icy teeter-totter. A child-friendly zip line allows kids to soar beneath a flock of snow geese flying overhead.
The Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, an interpretive center with engaging activities focusing on polar bears and climate change, also provides guests information on ways to practice conservation at home -- joining the Columbus Zoo and their partner Polar Bears International in the effort to save the polar bear.
The $20-million Polar Frontier experience is made possible due to the generosity of Franklin County residents and funds raised through a county property tax levy as well as corporate and private contributions.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is open 363 days of the year 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Memorial Day weekend and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. General admission is $12.99 for adults, $7.99 for children ages 2 to 9 and seniors 60+. Children under 2 and Columbus Zoo members are free. The Zoo was named the #1 Zoo in America by USA Travel Guide and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA.) For more information and to purchase advance Zoo admission tickets, visit www.columbuszoo.org
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