Meet the Artist: On Thin Ice

Posted at 10:00 am March 24, 2010 by admin

“When the opportunity to work with the San Diego Zoo arose, I couldn’t have been more pleased,” illustrator and graphic designer Nate Reifke explained. “This institution does so much to educate the public and raise awareness for the animals that accompany us on this planet. As a frequent visitor and lover of the Zoo, it has been a long-time goal to collaborate on a project, and Polar Bear Plunge was the right fit. I wanted to capture the spirit of the polar bears and show their vulnerability.”

Meet Artist Nate Reifke on March 26.

Nate recently served as creative director for the eco-conscious apparel company Mission Playground. Prior to that, he worked in the action sports industry as an in-house designer and illustrator for Sector 9 and Illenium Skateboards. Nate’s design for the re-opening of Polar Bear Plunge, titled “On Thin Ice,” is available on T-shirts, hoodies, caps, and totes in the Zoo’s Arctic Trader gift shop and online at

About his design, Nate says, “As the Earth warms and global change becomes more evident, people have begun to closely watch certain biomes and species. Polar bears have become a flagship creature for humankind to watch. In doing so, we have seen the reflection of ourselves and our actions. It seems fitting, therefore, that the bear should appear as an apparition rather than a solid figure. Its silhouette fades into the background as the icebergs that support its vitality resemble a dissipating paw print. As the Thin Ice text suggests, we as a planet are in a delicate situation. But it is not all doom and gloom. We have begun the good fight, and forging ahead while making smart choices in our lives and in our communities will continue the movement to live in a sustainable way to preserve these beautiful beasts.”

Nate will be at the grand re-opening of the Zoo’s Polar Bear Plunge on Friday, March 26, from Noon to 4 p.m. Come by to meet him and the polar bears that provided his inspiration.

View the various items featuring the “On Thin Ice” design…

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9 Responses to “Meet the Artist: On Thin Ice”

  1. Susan (UK) says:

    I like this t-shirt design very much. Very effective.

  2. Bryan says:

    As noted by the world’s premier researchers of Polar Bears, Mitchell Taylor, the populations are actually on the increase. Article: http://www (dot) csmonitor (dot) com/2007/0503/p13s01-wogi.html

    To insinuate that humans are responsible for global warming and that, in turn, is harming the polar bears is at the minimum, disingenuous, and quite frankly nothing more than propaganda. I find it very hard to believe that the Zoo, who bases so much of its research on cold-hard science, is pushing a political viewpoint in its operations.

    As a non-profit organization, you are forbidden from espousing a particular political viewpoint. To align yourselves with the propaganda of the far-left, you are potentially at risk of your non-profit status. I urge you to reconsider pushing a politcal view on unsuspecting visitors, in the name of “science”.

  3. Margaret in VA says:

    Glad it was a sunny day for the grand re-opening of Polar Bear Plunge. Since it is 5:30 PM and I see a lot of feet on the other side of the window, it looks like there is still a big crowd enjoying the big event. I checked in at noon and saw a lot of people on the road at the far end of the pond, presumably headed toward the entrance to Polar Plunge. I am glad to see that the green mesh has been removed so that people can see more clearly from the road. It was a challenge to see through or beyond it when were there in January.

    I trust that Tatqiq got plenty of visits with her fans and enjoyed the crowd and the excitement. Since I saw one bear out on the rocks by themselves near a pile of carrots this morning, I presume that was Tatqiq. She looked like she was resting in preparation for all the excitement and her afternoon visitors.

  4. Shirley says:

    How terribly disappointing… SDZ has been all about the animals, so I was looking forward to watching the video of the Polar Bear Plunge opening. Instead of seeing lots of views of the bears, I was “treated” to the sight of numerous teeny bopper actresses- and a couple of actress moms. Why?????

  5. sue Martz says:

    can we get a video of the grand re-opening of the polar bear plunge please with the bears included? I looked for something Friday and today and there was nothing. Thank you.

    Moderator’s note: Here’s a video clip of the grand re-opening.

  6. Chari Mercier says:

    Hey! Just saw the vid of the Polar Bear Plunge reopening. You got some good stuff in there for everybody! Alot of celebs were there, too! Having fun on a very nice day at SDZ!
    Also just watched the SDZ polarbearcam, and there was a polar bear just eating the carrots up! I’m sorry you all, but I am not very good at figuring out which polar bear is which! All 3 of them look alike, so I don’t know the polar bear that was sitting there eating the carrots. It was a great closeup shot by the cam people, tho! Now, how can I tell which bear is who??? Help me out please!!!
    Love them all!!

    Chari Mercier 🙂
    St. Pete, FL

    Moderator’s note: Check out the Meet the Bears pages on our new Polar Bear Plunge Web site!

  7. Chari Mercier says:

    YUK! Hate doing this when I forget something! Anyway, saw the pic of the tshirt that was designed for raising money for polar bear research and conservation. Looks great, you all!

    Chari Mercier 🙂

    St. Pete, FL

  8. Susan (UK) says:

    Looks fantastic. Love those new sculptures. Well done everyone who helped to design and build the plunge. I know the bears would love to give a big hug to everyone!

  9. Ruth M. Portsmouth NH says:

    I notice that the bears love their “carrot” treats – but what do they actually eat?

    Moderator’s note: From our Polar Bear fact sheet: Polar bears at the San Diego Zoo get carnivore diet (a product made specifically for zoos that consists mostly of ground beef and beef heart. It also contains additional amino acids, vitamins, and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus), dog kibble, trout and other fish, as well as root vegetables and lettuce. Cow femur bones and thawed rabbits are added once or twice per week.