Can You Own A Pet Polar Bear?

Can you own a polar bear as a pet? No, they don’t make good pets and carry a lot of risks. Even if some people managed to tame and train a polar bear, they will always remain wild animals. This article is all about the reasons why you should opt for another species instead.

Young polar bear in the snow

Is It Legal To Own A Pet Polar Bear?

No, in most western countries polar bears as pets are banned. However, you might find some states within the US or territories in Canada where it might be legal.

It’s just like it is with other pet bears. The barriers are high in most places and you would have to put some effort in. Most states will ask for a license or permit and you have to fulfill all the requirements needed (and pay a lot of money) to get it.

Zoos and animal parks, as well as sanctuaries, are the only facilities that can get a license easily.

You as a private person would have to show your experience and knowledge about polar bears. Be prepared that someone will come and visit your place. The person will take a close look at the enclosure and check if all requirements for the bear as well as safety aspects are met.

Polar Bears Aren’t Domesticated

As you can see in the video below, it’s very well possible to tame and train a pet polar bear. Mark Duma did exactly this with his female pet polar bear Agee.

Even though this video is fun to watch, you shouldn’t underestimate the time that is needed to form a relationship like this. Mark cared for his pet since she was a little cub. He spends several hours a day with her, a commitment which doesn’t work if you have a normal job with office hours.

That said, taming doesn’t mean domestication. A pet polar bear will always be a wild animal. Its unpredictable and wild instincts can kick in at any time.

Polar Bears Are Dangerous

Polar bears, like nearly all bears, are dangerous towards humans. No matter how well trained your pet is, visitors will never be safe. At least when they don’t know how to interact with a pet polar bear.

If polar bears feel threatened or provoked they will attack anything. There are reported cases of killed humans.

Not to mention that other pets are always at risk. A polar bear will see them as a potential meal.

Polar Bears Need Ice To Hunt

Polar bear on ice

Polar bears live far beyond the arctic circle where temperatures are low even in the summer month. Far north where the sea is frozen all year, they can use the ice to hunt seals. Without the ice, they aren’t able to survive.

But there is another problem with pet polar bears which don’t depend on hunting. They live in regions where it can get as cold as -29° Fahrenheit and their thermoregulation stops working when the weather is too hot. This can be fatal as their thick fur ensures a body temperature of around 98.6º Fahrenheit.

It’s common that polar bears overheat even in winter when they are too active. That’s also the reason why you almost never see them running.

So to take proper care of your pet polar bear you would need a large room with an air conditioner for the summer months.

There Are No Vets

Another problem that you would face is that there are no vets available who can treat your pet polar bear if it gets ill.

Even if you find someone you can’t just take your pet to the doctors’ office as it is too big. An adult polar bear weighs 800 pounds on average. Transportation of the pet will always be a thing and you need a veterinarian who is willing to visit you at home.

However, most vets who are able to treat wild bears are working at zoos or animal shelters.

Polar Bears Are Endangered

There are also ethical components in owning a pet polar bear. Even though their main threat is habitat loss and not animal trade, every individual should stay in the wild.

With an estimated population of 26,000 according to the IUCN polar bears are listed as vulnerable.

The Pet Will Rule Your Life

Polar bears can live up to 35 years and more in captivity. This is a long commitment, especially when you take into consideration that they need a lot of care.

You have to spend as much time as possible with them daily. Vacations, even weekend trips, aren’t possible anymore unless you can take your pet polar bear with you. Unlikely as they are so difficult to transport. Additionally, they are most likely not welcome where you go.

So all your life is set by the pet until one of you both dies.

How Much Does A Pet Polar Bear Cost?

Polar bear mother with two cubs

Polar bears are very expensive to keep as you can imagine. It’s not only that the price for the animal itself would be very high. Enclosure, veterinary care and food all add up quickly.

Plan to spend more than $100,000 to set everything up. A large pool is needed and there are also high maintenance costs for that.

Of course, you would have a hard time finding a polar bear for sale. Your local pet store is the wrong address and specialized breeders work at zoos for the most. They will sell the cubs only to other zoos which have a valid license.

Perhaps you could find some poacher who is willing to catch a polar bear for you. But that would be very expensive as these persons have to cover their risk of being caught.