It’s International Polar Bear Day! While we do not have any polar bears at the Aquarium, our penguin biologists wanted to weigh in to address a common polar bear myth regarding penguins and polar bears. While it’s a charming image that often crops up during chilly winter months, like that vintage Coca-Cola holiday commercial of these two polar species sharing a soda, there’s something wrong with this picture. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint: it is not the fact that penguins and polar bears don’t drink soda.

screen grab from 2006 coca cola commercial with penguin chick and polar bear cub
Aww... so cute, and yet so wrong

In fact, penguins and polar bears don’t mix. Even though they can live in similar types of habitats, you will never actually find penguins and polar bears living together in the wild.

polar bear on ice
Brian Skerry image of two Adelie penguins

That’s because polar bears are found in the Arctic Circle region of the Northern Hemisphere. Penguins are found on the exact opposite hemisphere ranging from the Galapagos Islands to the coast of Antarctica. They are separated by the warm waters around the equator. So besides some zoo settings, you’ll never find penguins and polar bears sharing an ice floe.

Now the next time you get a greeting card or see a commercial with penguins and polar bears together, you can impress your friends and tell them that even though it is very cute and a great advertising technique, it is never something you’ll see in the wild.