The Main Stream

Jun 22, 2012 9:00 PM by Danielle Lerner

Tucson climate 'working wonders' for Snow the polar bear

Summer is in full swing and while the hot, dry weather may be a bit tough to handle at times it is just what the doctor ordered for the Reid Park Zoo's polar bear. Snow came to Tucson from Sea World Orlando back in February, suffering from chronic skin allergies. It may not seem like an ideal climate for a polar bear but it is working wonders for Snow and putting Reid Park Zoo in the national spotlight when it comes to rehabilitating polar bears in need.
Looking at Snow now it is hard to tell this polar bear has a skin problem, but that was not the case when she first arrived four months ago. Back then her patchy fur and chronic scratching made it pretty obvious something was wrong.
"It's only been months and she looks exactly how she should look," said Zoo Keeper Alisha Brewer.
Snow's previous enclosure at Sea World Orlando was entirely indoors, and that is why zoo keepers credit Tucson's dry climate for her rapid progress. The warm sunshine, dry air and daily doses of Vitamin D.
"She's on half the amount of medicine she was when she originally came, all the itchies she used to have, we rarely see her itching anymore, so she's just blossomed here." said Brewer.
Snow is not the first polar bear to do so. The zoo's previous polar bear, Kobe, also suffered from severe skin dermititis, at one point losing two-thirds of her fur. By the time she left Reid Park Zoo, Kobe's coat was white and full, and she was eventually healthy enough to join a breeding program in Pittsburgh.
Now it is up to Snow to educate zoo guests and enjoy the outdoors. Even during the summer heat.
"She lays here and watches the keepers go by, she'll interact with the public up at the windows," Brewer said. "She loves it, she loves her grassy yard."


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