Did you know that:
-Polar bear scientific name is ursus maritimus, which means sea bear.
-The word Arctic comes from Arktos, the Greek word for bear. Logically, the word Antarcticmeans the opposite: without bear.
So polar bears and penguins don’t leave together except in books, TV shows and zoos.
-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 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.