Perhaps the “coolest” spot at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium occurs in North America’s Polar Frontier. On a recent visit to the zoo, howling winds and cold temperatures seemed the perfect time to check out the Polar Bears. They certainly weren’t bothered by the cold.
Set in what appears to be an abandoned mine camp in the Arctic Circle, Polar Frontier is home to four Arctic foxes, two brown bears, and two polar bears. Snow, ice and cold help create the atmosphere for their favorite time of the year. A sign near the entrance states:
An Arctic without ice would be like a garden without soil.
Polar bear statues of mother and two cubs welcome visitors to the Polar Frontier. Since North High School in Columbus, Ohio had as their mascot a Polar Bear, their alumni organizations funded the statues. Local artist, Mathew Palmer, created these delightful bronze figures covered with a white patina. Statues of animals frequently appear throughout the zoo and are perfect places for a close up picture with the animals.
Two Alaskan brown bears, brother Brutus and Buckeye – from Ohio of course, sleep soundly as they huddle against a heavy glass wall. They appear to believe in hibernation even at the zoo. Usually, they can be found swimming in their own small pool or having a bear wrestling match.
Polar bears, Aurora and Anana, have a playful time in the new fallen snow. Both rolled around on their backs taking a snow bath or perhaps just relaxing . Today they seemed happy to play in the snow and didn’t venture into either of their two pools for a dip
The polar bears have a 167,000 gallon pool of salt water in which to swim and catch lunch. You can observe the bears diving in for a swim from eye-level, or underneath through a 5″ thick acrylic tunnel. There is an ample supply of fresh trout available when the polar bears decide they might like a snack. Two underground geothermal tanks keep the water in their pools at the perfect temperature for polar bears to enjoy.
Inside the Battelle Ice Bear Outpost, you can find videos regarding the life of the bears. This interpretive center provides many activities that focus on polar bears and climate changes. It shares ways to practice conservation at home to save the polar bears. They have pictures to compare the sizes of various bears and even an animated Polar Bear Band at Ice Bear Mining Camp.
A fantastic playground for the youngsters is right outside the Polar Bear Exhibit where children can build an igloo, ride an ice teeter-totter, or slide down a snow bank. Parents can grab a snack at the Polar Grille and chill out while the children have a cool time.
This corner of the zoo is one of the favorite stops for most visitors. A winter visit also has the benefit of being able to see the animals more easily as the zoo isn’t crowded. Make sure you save time for the Polar Frontier…any time of the year!
To visit Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, take I-270 around Columbus, Ohio and use Exit 20. From there you will see signs directing you to the zoo. You’re sure to have a great day!