Animals

Some facts about polar bears

Did you know that:

-Polar bear scientific name is ursus maritimus, which means sea bear.

In Norway and Denmark, the polar bear is isbjorn, the ice bear.
The Russian term for polar bear is belly medved, the white bear.
To the Inuit, the polar bear is Nanuk, an animal worthy of great respect.
Sami peaople refuse to speak the polar bear’s real name for fear of offending him. Instead, they call him God’s dog or old man in a fur coat.
In eastern Greenalnd, the polar bear is known as Tornassuk, the master of helping spirits.
-Polar bears can be found in 5 countries in the arctic region: Canada – US (Alaska) – Denmark (Greenland) – Russia and Norway (the Svalbard archipelago).

-The word Arctic comes from Arktos, the Greek word for bear. Logically, the word Antarcticmeans the opposite: without bear. 

Why are there no polar bears in Antarctica?
Because the distribution of all animals is a function of luck and history. A place can have the perfect conditions but it may not be possible to get there. 


Polar bears likely evolved from grizzly bears somewhere off eastern Russia or the Alaskan Panhandle. They are totally dependent upon sea ice for their primary habitat for getting their food. As the world’s oceans never have been frozen from the north to the south, polar bears never have had the possibility to reach the Antarctic. Polar bears are strong swimmers but not strong enough to swim to the Antarctic. 

So polar bears and penguins don’t leave together except in books, TV shows and zoos.

-Biologists estimate there are 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. About 60% of those live in Canada.
 
-Churchill in Canada is the Polar bear capital of the world.
 
-Polar bear is classified as a vulnerable species because they are threatened by the melting of ice. Please help them by adopting some eco-friendly simple gestures.

-Humans are polar bears only predator. However, unregulated hunting – except by native people – ended in 1973 with an international agreement among the 5 polar bears nations.

-Polar bears are the largest land predator in the world, being on top of the food chain in Arctic.

-Adult male polar bears weigh from 350 to more than 550 kilos (775-1,200 pounds) for 2 to 3.1 meters long (6.5 to 12 feet).  Females are considerably smaller, normally weighing 150 to 300 kilos (330 to 650 pounds) and measuring 1.5 to 2.4 meters long (5 to 9 feet).

-The height of polar bears at their shoulders when they are on all fours is usually between 1 to 1.5 meters (3.5 to 5 feet) for males and females.
An adult male may reach over 3 meters (10 feet) when standing on its hind legs.

-The life expectancy of a polar bear in the wild is typically between 15 to 18 years, but can go up to age 30.

-The main food source for polar bears are various species of seals. All other food are opportunistic feedings.

-Polar bears are excellent swimmers. They can swim at speeds of up to 10km/h (6 mph), and can swim continuously for 100 km (62 miles). Some have been observed swimming 300 km (200 miles) from land.

-Polar bears’ fur, which appears to be white, is actually made up of almost colourless, almost transparent hairs. Reflection of the sunlight from the densely packed hairs makes polar bears appear to be white in a sort of optical illusion, just like snow, ice and sugar.

-Polar bear fur is oily and water repellent.

-Polar bears’ skin, visible only on the nose and footpads, is black. The black color enables the bears to absorb sunlight energy to warm their body.

-Polar bears have a blue tongue.

-Unlike brown and black bears, polar bears do not hibernate through the winter. But mother polar bears dig a snow den to give birth and raise her cubs the first months.

-Female polar bears reach sexual maturity at about 4 to 5 years old. Male polar bears reach sexual maturity at about 6 but don’t successfully mate until 8 or 10.

-Male polar bears have a baculum (penis bone).

-Females breed about once every 3 years, one of the slowest reproductive rates of any mammal. Therefore, the competition for female is intense.

-The mating season takes place on ice in April-May. The fertilized ova divide a few times and then float free within the uterus for about 6 months with its development arrested. Sometime around September, the embryo will attach to the uterine wall and resume development. This phenomena is called the “delayed implantation” and allow the mother to assess if she has made enough fat reserves prior to starting gestation and the process of birthing, nursing and carrying for her offspring and if this is not the case, the embryo will not implant but be reabsorbed by her body. It also allows the mother to give birth at the time of year that offers the best chance of survival for the cubs.

-The mother enters the den in October or November and the cubs will be born sometime in December or January (2 months later). The family remains in the den until March or early April. During her entire time in the den, the mother bear don’t eat or drink. When she finally emerges with her cubs, she leads them to the sea ice so she can break her long fast by hunting seals. For at least 20 months, cubs drink their mother’s milk and depend on her for survival. Her success at hunting is therefore critical for their own needs but also for teaching the cubs to find food by themselves.

The most frequent litter size is two, followed by litters of one. Litters of three are less common than twins or singles, and litters of four are rare.

-Newborn cubs are 30 to 35 centimeters (12 to 14 inches) long and weigh little more than half a kilogram (about one pound). They are blind, deaf, toothless and covered with short, soft fur. Their smelling and walking abilities are also nonexistent at that stage.
-Mother polar bears are extremely protective of their young, even risking their own lives in their cubs’ defense.
When her cubs are about 30 months old, a female polar bear is ready to breed again. At this time, an adult male may begin following her. Either the mother bear or the male chases away the cubs.
-A grolar or pizzly bear is the rare hybrid offspring of a polar bear and a grizzly and is a consequence of global warming.
-International Polar Bear Day in on February 27th 

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