Polar Bears

polar bear 1Polar bears are the largest carnivorous mammal on earth.  They can wight over 1,500 pounds, and stand over 11′ tall on its hind legs.  They live in the Northernmost regions of the Arctic.  They have adapted to the cold climate perfectly, and are well equipped for surviving the freezing temperatures.

Polar bears live in Northern Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Siberia.  There, snow is on the ground for most of the year, and the ocean freezes over.  Polar bears spend 45% of their life on the ocean, either swimming or on ice.  To keep warm in these freezing temperatures, polar bears have 4″ of fat insulating them. They also have two layers of fur, a long outer layer, and a dense inner layer.

polar bear 2In the Arctic, food is scarce.  Polar bears prey on fat, blubbery seals, walruses, belugas, narwhals, and whale carcasses. Polar bears have an excellent sense of smell.  They can smell a seal from over 30 miles away, and under 3′ of ice.  Polar bears sneak up on their prey, then tear the apart with their teeth and 3″ claws.   Their teeth have adapted to tear flesh from their kills easier.  A polar bear can consume up to 50 pounds of meat and blubber in one sitting.  Since polar bears don’t eat much meat and prefer the blubber, Arctic foxes sometimes follow them and eat the leftover meat.

polar bear 3

Polar bear mothers give birth to 1-4 cubs in the middle of winter after a 9 month pregnancy.  At birth, the cubs weigh no more than 2 pounds, 1/400 the weight of their mother  Mother polar bears and cubs are the only polar bears to hibernate in the winter.  The other bears stay out hunting for seals on the pack ice.  After they wake up, the mother bear teaches her cubs how to hunt seals and survive in the Arctic.  The cubs will stay with their mother for 3 years, and leave when she kicks them out.

Polar bears can live for 30 years in the wild, but that number has been going down recently.  Due to climate change and global warming, the Arctic pack ice has been melting.  This means that the polar bears cannot hunt seals on the ice.  Also, less cubs are surviving to adulthood because there are less seals that are easily accessible.  As a result, more polar bears have been dying of starvation in recent years.  Carbon-based gasses from transportation, animal agriculture, electricity, power plants, and deforestation have been causing the sea-ice to melt.  It is predicted that in the year 2044, you will be able to sail across the North Pole.  To read more about the threats of climate change, visit my post on the subject.