San Diego polar bear helps with research

A polar bear at the San Diego Zoo is assisting the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in studying the energy needs of wild polar bears.

Tatiq a 14 year old polar bear is one of three who lives at the zoo. She shares her habitat with her brother Kalluk and female, Chinook.

As part of the project she is sporting some new bling in the form of a collar fitted with an accelerometer that measures her movements.

It took a number of months for keepers to train Tatiq to wear the collar which weighs 2.5 pounds. It measures information 16 times per second recording her up and down, side to side and back to front movements.

polar bear

USGS researchers are also taking videos of what Tatiq does on exhibit. They will then compare this to the data from the accelerometer and use to understand what Tatiq was doing at the time. They will be able to see if she was running, walking, pouncing, swimming or doing anything else a polar bear might do in their day using the waves created by the accelerometer.

Researchers have also collared bears in the wild but cannot observe what those bears are doing. As such they will be able to read the waves produced by the accelerometer and compare these to Tatiq’s to see what the wild polar bears are doing. This information provides an insight into the energy demands of a polar bear to meet their daily needs. Using this information they will be able to see what effect climate change is having on polar bears.

Polar bears are an endangered species as a result of climate change which has reduced their habitat.

Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo/ Tammy Spratt

By Cale Russell is a testament to Cale’s commitment to the education of people around the world on the topic of animals and conservation, through the sharing of topical and newsworthy information.

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