Polar Bear Facts

Here are some facts about polar bears.

  • The polar bear is a large bear species, related to the brown bear. It spends most of its life in the sea and is found mostly within the Arctic Circle.
  • Adult bears can weigh up to 1,000 kg and can measure 3 metres in length. They have 42 teeth, which are ideal for their diet of mostly seal meat.

  • Bears mostly eat seals and can smell a seal up to 1.6 km away. If available, they also eat birds, plants and rodents and even rubbish and hazardous substances if they find them.
  • Polar bears are able to withstand the cold with up to 10cm of blubber, or fat all over their bodies.
  • They are excellent swimmers and can swim at a speed of 10 kmh.
  • The fur of a polar bear is not white, although the transparent fur appears white because it reflects the light. The hollow hairs can also trap the heat, keeping them warm.
  • Polar bear feet are large and covered with small bumps, to stop them from slipping on the ice. Their large feet also allow them to swim more efficiently.
  • Female bears like to build complex dens in the snow, with several rooms and even a ventilation system. They are picky about their building materials, preferring older snow to freshly fallen snow.
  • Polar bears were named an endangered species in the US in 2008. Global warming in the Arctic has led to fewer bears; today there are about 30,000 bears in the wild.
  • Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, calls itself the polar bear capital of the world. The town has a bear jail, where roaming bears are kept before being safely released.
  • Several companies, including Coca-Cola, use polar bears in their advertising. It is the mascot for several US colleges and polar bear plunges are popular, in which people leap into freezing cold water.
  • In 2009 the Eden TV channel floated a massive sculpture of a polar bear and her cub standing on a chunk of ice down the River Thames. It was intended to raise public awareness about the plight of the polar bears and the impact of climate change.
  • This is not the first polar bear to River Thames has seen. In 1252 Henry III was given a polar beat by the Norwegian monarch. The polar bear was kept in the Tower of London menagerie and taken by his keeper to fish and bath in the Thames.

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