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Taxonomy (SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION)
CLASS: Mammalia (Mammals)
ORDER: Carnivora (Carnivores)
FAMILY: Ursidae (bear family)
GENUS/SPECIES: Ursus maritimus
LIFE SPAN: Polar Bears can live up to 25-30 years in the wild
HABITAT: Polar Bears live in the Arctic, and they can be found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
DIET: Polar Bears are carnivores (“meat eaters”) and feed almost exclusively on seals. They are also known to eat walruses, whale carcasses, birds’ eggs, and (on occasion) vegetation.
A male Polar Bear is called a boar
A female Polar Bear is called a sow
A young Polar Bear is called a cub
A group of Polar Bears is called a pack, a sleuth, or an aurora
Polar Bears are the largest land carnivores in the world. They are rivaled only by the Kodiak brown bears of southwestern Alaska
Contrary to popular belief, a Polar Bear's fur is not white- it’s transparent! Each of their hairs is a clear hollow tube that reflects sunlight, traps the sun's infrared heat, and helps keep the Polar Bear warm.
A Polar Bear's skin is black. Their black skin soaks up the sun's heat and helps Polar Bears stay warm.
Polar Bears can swim up to 6 miles per hour- almost twice as fast as US Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps!
Polar Bears have an incredible sense of smell. Their sense of smell is so good that they can sniff out prey from almost 10 miles away!
Polar Bears are considered Vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. This means that Polar Bears are likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening their survival improve.
Loss of Arctic sea ice due to climate change is the most serious threat to the Polar Bears’ existence. Polar Bears need sturdy pack ice for hunting, denning, and mating, and there is the potential for large reductions in the global Polar Bear population if sea-ice loss continues.
Polar Bears are having a difficult time maintaining their food supply of seals because of the loss of sea ice. Mother Polar Bears aren’t able to put on enough body weight to nurse their cubs and many cubs are left starving. Some Polar Bears are even drowning as they are having to swim further and further distances in search of food.
Additional threats to the survival of Polar Bears are pollution and industrial development. Toxins build up in animal fat, and Polar Bears require large quantities of fat in their diet to remain healthy. Industrial development is threatening the existence of Polar Bears by increasing the number of human-Polar Bear interactions. Additionally, the IUCN states that an industrial oil spill in sea ice habitat could have grave results for both Polar Bears and their main prey (seals) due to direct exposure to oil.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP POLAR BEARS?
Educate yourself about Polar Bears and their circumstances by reviewing the materials presented below in the Resources section and other materials you may be able to find on your own.
Post messages on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and send emails to your family and friends expressing your concern for the plight of the Polar Bears and encouraging them to become involved as well.
Write letters to your elected officials in Washington DC and to leaders in nations where Polar Bears live explaining why the conservation of Polar Bears is important to you and encouraging these officials to work to help keep Polar Bears from ever becoming extinct in the wild.
Help to improve the environment around you and around the world by working to reduce, recycle, and reuse. This will help eliminate waste and will greatly improve the world in which we all live.
And when you shop at Joe’s Cowtown Photos, you can designate Polar Bear-centric programs and initiatives such as Polar Bears International, The Ocean Conservancy’s Protecting the Arctic Program, and the World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt a Polar Bear Program as the beneficiary of the charitable portion of your purchase. (For more information on Joe’s Cowtown Photos charitable giving program, Cowtown Photos Cares!, click here.)
A Zeal of Zebras: An Alphabet of Collective Nouns (book) by Woop Studios
KidZone Animal Facts Polar Bear page
Ocean Conservancy’s Polar Bear page
Defenders of Wildlife Polar Bear page
National Geographic’s 10 Facts About Polar Bears page
San Diego Zoo Global 21 Facts About Polar Bears page
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species Polar Bear page
Polar Bears International page
World Wildlife Fund’s Adopt a Polar Bear page
The United States House of Representatives Page
The information provided in this Animal Info page was compiled by Joe Hoffman (St. Pius X Elementary School Class of 1986 and Founder/Owner of Joe’s Cowtown Photos) and was proof-read and edited by Anita Striegel (Retired 8th Grade Teacher from St. Pius X Elementary School, Joe’s former teacher!)
To access the Animal Info main page, click here!