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POLAR BEARS
(Ursus Maritimus "Bear of the Sea")

Click on images to inlarge.

Current population: Approximately 40,000

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Physical Information

Adult Male
Approximate Length: 2.4 - 3.4 m (8 - 11 ft.)
Approximate Height at Shoulder: 1.2 - 1.5 m (4 - 5 ft)
Average Weight: 545 kg (1200 lbs.)
Approximate Life Span in Wild: 25 years

Adult Female
Approximate Length: 2 - 2.8 m (6 - 9 ft.)
Approximate Height at Shoulder: 1 - 1.2 m (3 - 4 ft)
Average Weight: 364 kg (800 lbs.)
Approximate Life Span in Wild: 25 years
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Polar Bears live in the Arctic and sub Arctic regions of the globe and are the largest of the bear family with adult Polar Bear reaching an average weight of 545 kg (1200 lbs) and the largest recorded weight of 1000 kg (2200 lbs). Polar Bears would be the largest land based carnivore if it was considered a land based carnivore. But because a Polar Bear spends so much time on the sea ice scientist's have classified the Polar bear as a marine mammal.
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polarbear4s.jpg Some Polar Bears never set foot on land, they wander the ice packs in search of seals, which is their primary food source. Polar Bears are solitary animals except for a mother with cubs. Cubs stay with their mothers for about 2.5 years and in that time they will learn how to hunt and survive on their own. After which time the mother will chase off the cubs when she is ready to breed again. Mating for Polar Bears is from early April to early June. Male Polar Bears have little to do with the cubs other than impregnating the female and will often kill the cubs to bring the female back into estrus. Female Polar Bears though will fiercely protect the cubs even if it means her own life. About 40% of Polar Bear cubs never reach maturity but once a bear reaches maturity there is very little that it has to worry about, other than humans or a larger bear. Current Polar Bear population is estimated at 40,000 and thanks to the cooperation of all the northern countries the number of Polar Bears have been slowly increasing.

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Polar Bears have a wide variety of adaptations to help them cope with their environment. Polar Bears fur is thick (approximately 152 mm (6 in)) and is not white but translucent and hollow like optic fibers, the fur helps to transfer the heat of the sun to the skin which is black. This fur combined with the layers of fat beneath the skin and the large body mass keeps the Polar Bear toasty warm even in freezing cold weather. The Polar Bear is so well insulated that the only thing that shows up on an inferred heat detector is the exhaled breath from the bear. Other unique adaptations that the Polar Bear has is that it has a second eyelid that helps to prevent snow blindness and acts like a diving mask to help the bear see under water. Polar Bears are strong swimmers and have semi-webbed paws which help them to swim great distances. Some Polar Bears have been known to swim for over 160 km (100 mi) nonstop. The paws of the Polar Bear are wide to help distribute the weight while walking on snow and have hair and small indents on the soles to help with traction on the ice. Their claws are short and sharp and can easily rip open their prey.

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polarbear9s.jpg A Polar Bear's eyesight and hearing is about the same as human's but their olfactory system is about a hundred times more sensitive than that of a human's. Their sense of smell is so acute that they can locate seals even if the seal is under a meter (3 ft) of snow and ice. They use their sense of smell to locate seals out on the ice flows and locate the seals breathing holes. Once a Polar Bear locates a breathing hole it will sit and wait for the seals to return. When a Polar Bear approaches a seals breathing hole he must do it very quietly so Polar Bears have learned to place the outer edge of their paws down first and to roll their paw to help reduce noise that they would make under the ice. The Polar Bear then waits next to the breathing hole remaining motionless until the seal surfaces for air. When the seal surfaces the Polar Bear grabs the seal by the head killing it instantly then drags the seal through the hole and proceeds to consume as much of the fat from the seal as it can. About 68 kg (150 lbs) of fat can be consumed in 1 meal.

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Polar Bears are highly intelligent and they have an excellent memory. Polar Bears are very curious creatures who like to explore their surroundings looking for food and sometimes toys to play with. Polar Bears are capable of solving complex problems and will retain the information that they gain from it and continue to learn and adapt throughout their entire life. Most of the pictures you see here were taking in Churchill Manitoba Canada where some of the Polar Bears congregate while waiting for the sea to freeze again so that they can go hunt seals. While in Churchill the otherwise solitary Polar Bears will interact with other Polar Bears and even play with others to help pass the time. This large gathering of Polar Bears attracts another animal to the area called humans. About 12,000 people a year flock to Churchill to see the Polar Bears and because of this Churchill has been dubbed "The Polar Bear Capitol of the World".

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