Zoo polar bear wears big collar for research

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Data pix.
SAN DIEGO - Tatqiq, a polar bear at the San Diego Zoo, is part of a research project aimed at finding ways to arrest the sharp decline of her species in the wild due to global warming.

For several hours each day recently, the 14-year-old, 520-pound female has been wearing a collar that transmits data tracking her movements, the Los Angeles Times reported.

At the same time, a researcher from the U.S. Geological Survey is filming Tatqiq as she walks, eats, runs, rests and swims at the zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge.

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By comparing the film with the tracking data, researchers can figure out what Tatqiq was doing when certain data – think squiggly lines like an EKG readout – was transmitted from a small, battery-operated accelerometer around her neck.

From those conclusions, researchers will be able to gauge what polar bears in the wild were doing when similar data were being transmitted from their collars, which were slipped on while they were tranquilized. Because of the remoteness and bitter temperature of the Arctic, long-term watching of polar bears is not practical.

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