Thank you furry much! As the ice-hockey season kicks off, Berlin’s top-flight team Eisbären (“polar bears”) has aptly become the official sponsor of Tierpark Berlin’s female polar bear Tonja. Eisbären Berlin is one of the city’s best-loved sports clubs and has won the German Ice Hockey League (DEL) more often than any other team.
The handover of the sponsorship certificate today was a very special occasion, as it’s not every day such a fitting sponsor is found! “Polar bears are, of course, our favourite animal,” said Eisbären manager Peter John Lee. “It was high time that we started sponsoring one of our namesake bears here at the Tierpark, so we’re very happy about this new, mutually beneficial relationship with Tonja.”
Tonja was spoiled rotten on her special day. Eisbären Berlin’s polar-bear mascot Bully brought along a giant hockey puck “pie” filled with carrots, apples and pears. To the delight of ice-hockey fans, players Marcel Noebels, Frank Hördler and Micki DuPont were also present to welcome the 200-kilo she-bear onto the team.
Tierpark Director Andreas Knieriem greeted the sporty sponsors with obvious pleasure. “We are delighted that such an important Berlin sports club has agreed to sponsor our Tonja,” he said. “We are grateful for all support that helps us raise awareness about the impact climate change is having on polar bears.”
Polar bears are Earth’s biggest land predator and are perfectly adapted to life in their Arctic homeland, where they face temperatures as low as minus 70°C. But now climate change is causing the deserts of snow and ice in the Arctic Circle to melt, robbing the bears of their natural habitat and hunting grounds.
Two polar bears currently live at Tierpark Berlin – seven-year-old female Tonja and five-year-old male Wolodja. The two bears mated several times in the spring, so hopes are high that Tonja will produce young by the end of the year.
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Photo: A gift from new sponsors Eisbären Berlin. From left to right: Micki DuPont, Marcel Noebels, Frank Hördler, and Zoo and Tierpark Director Dr Andreas Knieriem