An Evening with the Experts: Dr. Tom Smith, Polar Bears International

April 25, 2013 - 07:00pm to 08:00pm

Subzero temperatures. Snow so cold you can cut it into blocks. Exposed flesh that burns painfully from mere seconds of exposure - it's all in a day's work for polar bear researcher Dr. Tom Smith.


Every Arctic autumn, pregnant polar bears excavate a tunnel in the snow to serve as their over-winter maternity ward. When spring arrives, they emerge with cubs and a huge appetite. This remarkable process - called denning - allows vulnerable infant bears to be born into one of the harshest environments on earth. But as climate change transforms the Arctic, mother bears are being forced to adjust where and when they den. Will their maternal strategies adapt fast enough?

Join us on Thursday, April 25 for an evening with Dr. Tom Smith as he reveals how climate change is altering the rhythm of polar bear parenthood.

Dr. Tom Smith, associate professor and research wildlife biologist in the Department of Plant and Wildlife Sciences at Brigham Young University and Polar Bears International, spent 15 years researching North American bears and is an authority on den emergence ecology. Currently, Dr. Smith is studying how human activities on the North Slope of Alaska may affect polar bear mothers and cubs. As industry moves further north, his findings may help set guidelines to prevent disturbing polar bear mothers and cubs.

Additional guest speakers:

  • Senior keeper Nicole Nicassio will discuss recent polar bear welfare breakthroughs at the Oregon Zoo and explore how zoo research supports field conservation efforts.
  • The Oregon Zoo's Arctic Ambassadors will recount their experiences in the Canadian Arctic and explain how people can help save polar bears through simple actions.

An Evening with the Experts, presented by the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Zoo Foundation and Polar Bears International, will be hosted at the World Forestry Center's Cheatham Hall from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Admission is $10 or $8 for zoo members and students with valid ID.  This event is suitable for all ages.

Register here.