Polar bears revel in summer snow day at San Diego Zoo

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on July 14, 2011 at 7:18 AM

Updated Thursday, Jul 14 at 7:37 AM

SAN DIEGO -- The polar bears at the San Diego Zoo got a very cool summer treat  -- 18 tons of snow.

The snow was brought into the Polar Bear Plunge exhibit Wednesday morning, and the three polar bears clearly loved it. Watch the video above to see just how much fun Chinook , Kalluk and Taqiq were having.

"They came out the doors and, in natural bear behavior, began digging and rolling and playing in the snow," said JoAnne Simerson, a senior animal keeper at the San Diego Zoo. "They're like kids on Christmas morning. They're so excited and having so much fun."

More than 90 individual donors raised more than $5,000 to spring for the snow. Simerson said it was "worth every penny."

She said polar bears are incredibly creative animals and enrichment experiences like their icy treat give them the opportunity to express that. She also said bears' snow day was also a great chance to educate zoo visitors.

"It gives us a great opportunity with our guests to talk about how polar bears in the wild interact with the ice in their environment, how important that ice is," Simerson explained, talking about what individuals can do to be more conservation-minded and help save the arctic ice.

"We're looking at a lot of polar bears in the wild that are having a lot of problems because that arctic home is disappearing on them," Simerson continued. "Let's be creative and work together to save our arctic ice."

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