After viral video of polar bear on tiny patch of ice, Lincoln Park Zoo offers intimate details of animal’s pampered life

Zoo officials responded after a visitor’s video appeared to show a polar bear sleeping in a tiny patch of ice; it was misleading, zoo officials said.

SHARE After viral video of polar bear on tiny patch of ice, Lincoln Park Zoo offers intimate details of animal’s pampered life
A family watches as a polar bear swimming at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Lincoln Park Zoo found itself detailing a polar bear’s day after a viral video showed the bear with just a little ice on a hot day.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Life for a Lincoln Park Zoo polar bear sounds like something you might read about in a glossy brochure for a Fiji Islands getaway or perhaps an elite summer camp.

“In their 11,383-square-foot indoor and outdoor habitat, these bears always have access to air-conditioned spaces behind the scenes as well as multiple temperature-controlled dive pools, a stream, a cooling ice cave, dig pits, grasses, mud, and an ice machine that creates ice piles like the one shown in the video,” according to a zoo Facebook message posted Monday.

The zoo folks found themselves having to explain in precise detail the perks of polar bear life after a cellphone video popped up last week on Facebook in which visitor Keisha Jackson complains: “How is it that they got this poor bear on this little bit of ice, and it’s like almost 100 degrees outside?”

The video had been viewed 816,000 times as of Tuesday afternoon.

But the video is misleading, according to the zoo.

“Furthermore, the video is also just a moment of male polar bear Siku’s day. Using cameras built for 24/7 monitoring, the zoo’s animal care staff and animal welfare scientists can see that on [June 23], Siku spent his morning swimming in the cold water deep dive pool, explored the habitat for snacks, slept behind the scenes while keepers cleaned the habitat, foraged for more food throughout the north side habitat, participated in a training session in the south habitat, headed inside for an hourslong afternoon nap, and headed back outside. Then, he dug through an enrichment ice pile intended to elicit foraging and found hidden fish and once he ate those up, chose to take the opportunity for another nap on the ice pile.”

Jackson, 42, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that it was her first trip to the zoo; she was there with a cousin.

“It looked like [the bear] wasn’t responsive. It looked like he was struggling,” said Jackson, a beauty expert who lives in Hyde Park.

Jackson acknowledged she isn’t an expert on animal behavior.

“I’m not a zoologist. In my heart, I felt like that wasn’t right,” she said.

Based on the response online, Jackson said she’s hoping to raise money for the bear’s care.

“Because I don’t think I should just show the video, and then I don’t do anything to help,” she said.

In the zoo’s Facebook response, the organization offers ways to help polar bears and the zoo on the conservation and science section of its website, www.lpzoo.org.

Siku is about 12 years old and weighs around 1,000 pounds, according to the zoo. Siku is one of two polar bears — the other, Talini, a female — living at the zoo.

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