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Spirit Bear

Published

Ursus americanus kermodei

Type: Mammal

Location: British Columbia, Canada

Diet: Omnivore

The 'spirit bear' (also known as the Kermode Bear) is named after Francis Kermode, a zoologist and former director of the Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria, who first studied the subspecies in the early 1900s.

Spirit bears are easily recognized by their white fur, but, contrary to common belief, they're not albinos—they're actually a rare subspecies of the black bear, born with a genetic mutation that gives them white coats. It's the same genetic mutation that gives humans red hair.

Spirit bears are so rare that only about 400 or so are left in the wild. In April 2006, the Spirit Bear was added to the list of the Canadian province of British Columbia’s official symbols. It's an offense of up to $104,000 ($100,000 Canadian) to shoot a white bear anywhere in the province.

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