Today is World Polar Bear Day, a day to celebrate the largest carnivorous mammal. World Polar Bear Day helps to bring awareness to the plight of these beautiful bears, especially with factors such as climate change making them vulnerable to becoming endangered. Here are 10 polar bear facts you may not have known.
1. Polar bears are massive.
We all know that Polar bears are huge, but they also take the title for the largest land carnivores in the world. Adult males can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and be up to 9ft (274 cm) in height. The tallest bear on record was 11.1ft (338 cm) Despite their size, polar bears are excellent swimmers and can swim for long distances in the icy Arctic waters.
2. They have black skin
Underneath their fluffy white fur, polar bears have black skin. The polar bear’s fur is also translucent, and only appears white because it reflects visible light. They also have two layers of fur. The outer layer is made up of long, water-repellent hairs, while the inner layer is made up of soft, dense fur. This double-layered fur helps to insulate the bear from the cold.
3. They are marine mammals
Polar bears are considered to be marine mammals, as they spend most of their time on the sea ice hunting for prey- this puts them in the same category as dolphins and whales. It helps that they are excellent swimmers and can swim for several miles without resting.
4. Polar bears have lots of blubber
Polar bears have a unique layer of fat called blubber, which helps them to survive in the freezing temperatures of the Arctic. The blubber also acts as a source of energy when food is scarce, which is more likely in this day and age. They share this feature with other marine mammals, such as whales and dolphins.
5. Polar bear hunts are rarely successful
In fact, less than 2% of their hunts are successful. If you’ve seen a nature documentary you might be rooting for the cute baby seal trying to get away from the huge bear (don’t we all), however, a bear’s gotta eat! If they can’t get their preferred choice of seal, a polar bear will also scavenge carcasses, eat eggs and vegetation.
6. Polar bear and grizzly hybrids are a thing
Known as the grolar bear or the pizzly bear amongst other names, this hybrid bear is a combination of the polar and grizzly bears. These two fearsome bears have been known to mate, and thanks to DNA their offspring have been confirmed. Eight ‘grolars’ have been confirmed through DNA, and many other sightings of these hybrids have been reported.
7. Females usually have twin cubs
Female polar bears usually give birth to two cubs at a time, and the cubs are born in the den during the winter months. The mother stays with her cubs for two to three years, teaching them how to hunt and survive in the Arctic environment.
8. A man has become best friends with a polar bear
We’re not recommending that you walk up to a polar bear and give it a hug, as the chances are you wouldn’t fare too well. Mark Dumas, from British Columbia, Canada is another story. This daredevil is best friends with a polar bear- and he has gone pretty far to demonstrate how much he trusts Agee, the polar bear he has raised since a cub.
9. They can conserve their energy
Polar bears have a unique way of conserving energy when they are not hunting or moving around. They can enter into a state of “walking hibernation,” where their metabolism slows down and they conserve energy by reducing their activity.
10. Climate change is affecting their ability to exist
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to polar bears. As the Arctic sea ice melts, polar bears are losing their hunting grounds, and many are struggling to find enough food to survive. It is estimated that there are currently between 22,000 and 31,000 polar bears left in the wild.