- Polar bears are mainly found within the Arctic Circle in the range countries of Denmark (Greenland), Norway (Svalbard), Russia, United States and Canada.
- There may be only 25,000 polar bears left in the Arctic - about 60% of those are in Canada.
- The polar bear's scientific name, Ursus maritimus, means maritime bear.
- Polar bears are the world’s largest land predator - more than twice the size of a Siberian tiger.
- Polar bears live in one of the planet’s coldest environments, where the winter climate in the Arctic can plunge to -50°F.
- Polar bears are insulated by two layers of fur and a four-inch thick fat layer.
- The feet are furred and covered with small bumps to prevent them from slipping on the ice.
- In most parts of the Arctic, female polar bears only breed every three years.
- A female bear may put on up to 400 pounds in preparation for denning.
- Cubs, often twins, are born in January, and do not leave the ice den until March or early April.
- Polar bears are stealth hunters of ringed and bearded seals, but they have also been recorded to eat reindeer, birds, eggs and shellfish.
- Polar bears have an acute sense of smell, and can detect a seal over one mile away or through three feet of ice.
- The polar bear hunts by catching seals at their breathing holes in the ice, by stalking seals resting on the ice, or by crashing into seal birthing lairs.
- When the sea ice disappears in summer, the polar bear may have to live off fat reserves for a few months.
- The main threat to polar bear populations is malnutrition or starvation due to habitat loss, which is caused by global warming and the resulting reduction of the sea ice cover.
February 10, 2012
Polar Bear Facts