Besides the fuzzy cuteness, conservationists hope people will think more about climate change during the week. According to the Oregon Zoo:
"The worldwide population of 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears is expected to continue to decline due to the warming and melting of sea ice, a vital polar bear habitat. According to scientists at Polar Bear International, a research and stewardship organization, if current trends continue, two-thirds of the world's polar bears will vanish within the next 40 years and the rest are likely to disappear by 2100."
In the U.S. polar bears are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act because of the loss (and predicted future loss) of their sea-ice habitat.
Earlier this year the Oregonian reported about data the Oregon Zoo's Tasul helped gather for climate change research.
(A giant polar bear puppet has also shown up at protests against the Northwest's proposed coal export terminals.)
U.S. Geological Survey biologists asked the Oregon Zoo to train her to wear a collar. When biologists combined data collected with video, they hoped to learn more about wild polar bear behavior. According to the Oregonian:
"Scientists still don't have a clear idea of how the bears are responding to climate change, which is rapidly shrinking their habitat, the sea ice at the top of the world.
"Most seem to follow the retreating sea ice, [biologist Anthony] Pagano says, but it's unknown if they're hunting or trying to conserve energy for the increasingly long swims -- sometimes hundreds of miles -- now required to reach the ice or land."
Here's video of a polar bear's view of the world from Tasul's collar-wearing days: