Tallinn Zoo polar bears Friida and Rasputin seek shelter from summer heat

Polar bear at Tallinn Zoo.
Polar bear at Tallinn Zoo. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

As Estonia basks in another summer heatwave, how are the residents of Tallinn Zoo coping with the soaring temperatures? On Wednesday, "Aktuaalne Kaamera" went to find out, stopping off at Tallinn Botanical Gardens along the way to check on the tropical plants.

Despite the recent spell of hot weather, daily life at Tallinn Zoo goes on as usual, though it is true that the zoo's residents tend to seek shade from the midday sun and stay close to the water.

Tallinn Zoo's most northerly inhabitants are Friida and Rasputin, two polar bears, whose natural Arctic home is icy and freezing cold. However, Helina Raja, a wildlife education specialist at the zoo, explains that the two polar bears are also built to cope with hotter temperatures.

"While polar bears' fur is designed to keep them warm in the harsh northern climate, it is also a pretty good insulator when you need to keep heat out."

"How do they deal with the heat? They're a bit lethargic, just like us, and maybe they don't wander around the garden as much, but they swim a bit more, and they stay in the shade," she added.

While, for most people, there's no better way of cooling down on a hot day than by enjoying an ice cream or glass of cold water, Friida and Rasputin prefer a summer menu consisting of carrots and meat. The two polar bears love it so much, that, even in the heat, they have no hesitation in climbing to the top of the rocks in their enclosure to get their paws on the tasty treats.

But if there's anyone who's really enjoying the heatwave and tropical nights herein Estonia, it's the exotic inhabitants of the Tallinn Botanical Gardens.

"What they're certainly happy about is the light and movement of the air. That's something tropical plants really need in the summer. Thanks to this, they can store up energy for the winter," explained Jaan Mettik, head of the Tropical and Subtropical Plants Department at the Botanical Gardens.

Bespectacled visitors to the gardens are also in for a treat due the current heatwave. Thanks to simple physics, for the time being, they will not have to deal with their glasses being steamed up the second they enter the tropical enclosure. Because hot air rises, temperatures there are now nice and cool.

Hundreds of poinsettias and irises are currently in bloom at Tallinn's Botanical Gardens, and, with the current weather, the aromatic and colorful blooms should continue for another week or two.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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