Copenhagen Gallery

The Arctic Ring

ZOO's polar bears get new accommodation. Guests are welcome.

The Arctic Ring has given the polar bears 3,100 m2 of lovely new space to frolic in, much more space more than they had previously. The facility attempts as far as possible to resemble the polar bears' natural habitat in the wilds of the Arctic. Therefore, the site has been designed like a tundra coast with sections of rock, grasses, herbs, small bushes and dwarf willow, just like in the Arctic. The large predators can dig in the earth and search for food, jump into water from the rocks and dive into the 1,900 m3 salt-water pool.

Stand face to face with the big predators 

Through the basin runs a transparent acrylic tunnel, where visitors can get close to the large animals, when they dive into the water. Mutual curiosity makes it possible to look polar bears straight in the eye and to really get a sense of how massive they are. The facility has been built for three polar bears, but is currently inhabited by only two: a male and a female. The male weighs 607 kg and is 3.5 meters tall, when he stretches fully out in the water! 

More fun for the visitors

It is not only the animals, who have been given better conditions. It has also become more fun for visitors. The route through the facility is shaped like a spatial sequence, with different experiences succeeding one another. The trip through the Arctic Ring starts on land, on a winding ramp, which provides you with an excellent view of the  polar bears' tundra landscape. The ramp leads down to the "polar sea", where you experience the bears under water, before continuing up along the periphery of the building, where once again you can see the polar bears in the water, but now at water level. Along the way, you can "board" exhibitions about animal life and experience puffins, guillemots and razorbills on the Faroese bird cliffs, which rise up in the middle of the Arctic Ring. 

Northern inspiration

Dall & Lindhardtsen were responsible for the design of the Arctic Ring. This is not the first time they have taken care of animals. For example, they were also responsible for ZOO'S Hippo House (link), Giraffe House and Ape Jungle.

Inspiration came from polar bears' origins in the Arctic tundra with its glaciers, deep blue sea and gleaming white icebergs. The Arctic Ring is composed of special geometric shapes (ellipses, curves and ramp trajectories) in "snow"-white concrete. In some places the concrete was cast against acrylic panels to achieve a mirror-like "ice" surface, just as in the polar bears' natural habitat.

Monday, April 08, 2013 / By Ida Oline Frandsen

Last updated Sunday, March 08, 2015