Polar bear| Exploring the World of Wildlife: facts about the Polar bear

The polar bear is uniquely adapted to life on the sea coast of the Arctic Ocean. For many thousands of years it has roamed the vast and pristine Arctic, being its undisputed master. However, climate change has created a conservation crisis for this unique species.

Fact number one.

Scientists believe that the polar bear descended about 200,000 years ago from the ancestors of the brown bear. Both polar bears and brown bears are the largest land predators. But most experts agree that polar bears are still superior to brown bears-it is their males that can reach over 3 meters standing on their hind legs.

Fact number two.

Despite the long and harsh winter, polar bears do not hibernate. Only pregnant females hibernate in dens. While in the den, the activity level of the pregnant female decreases and her metabolism slows down. During this period, she gives birth and takes care of her cubs. Changes in her metabolism allow her to go without food, water, defecation, or urination for a very long time. Her fat reserves provide her with the energy she needs to sustain herself and her cubs. Nevertheless, the polar bear easily wakes up when necessary. This process is called winter sleep.

Fact number three.

The cubs are born in late fall and weigh about 500-600 grams. The cubs are born hairless and blind. The milk of the female polar bear contains 36 percent fat, the richest milk in terms of fatness of any bear species. This helps the cubs grow quickly. By April, they weigh more than 9 kilograms and begin to follow their mother on her walks. At about two years old, the cubs are ready to live an independent life.

Fact number four.

Ice rafts are used by polar bears as hunting platforms. They are especially attracted to open water and ice-floes, areas where they can hunt seals, which are a staple of their diet. Bears can remain motionless for hours above a seal’s breathing hole in the ice, waiting for it to emerge. The polar bear’s sense of smell is so strong that it can smell a seal several dozen kilometers away.

Fact number five.

The scientific name of the polar bear is Ursus maritimus, which means «sea bear». A very appropriate name, because members of this species spend more time in the water or near the Arctic coast than inside the continent.

Fact number six.

Polar bears know how to build nest-like rookeries out of seaweed discarded on the coast. When polar bears are not hunting, they rest, sometimes for up to 20 hours a day. This is to better store fat. When food cannot be found, the fat acts as a food supply and energy reserve.

Fact number seven.

The indigenous peoples of the North never eat polar bear liver, I meat — boiled for several hours before eating it. The fact is that the liver of this predator contains a huge amount of retinol, or vitamin A. In just one hundred grams of liver there are six hundred milligrams of retinol, while the daily rate for humans is one milligram. And if you eat 100 grams of this byproduct, you will suffer from severe poisoning accompanied by fever, headache, a sharp pain in the stomach and nausea.

Fact number eight.

Polar bears keep warm thanks to a layer of fat several centimeters thick. Polar bears spend their lives in sub-zero temperatures, but they are adapted to this not only because of their insulating fur and heat-absorbing skin, but also with a layer of body fat that can be almost 11.4 centimeters thick. This fat keeps them warm when they’re in the water, which is why mothers are reluctant to let their cubs swim in the spring: newborns don’t yet have enough fat to keep them warm.

Fact number nine.

Polar bears are classified as marine mammals. Because polar bears depend on the ocean for food and icy habitat, they are the only species of bear that are considered marine mammals. This means they are grouped with seals, sea lions, walruses, whales, and dolphins.

Fact number ten.

The soles of the polar bear’s feet are covered with wool, which keeps them from slipping on the ice and keeping them warm. Between the toes on their front and hind paws, they have a swimming webbing. Additionally, the front part of the paws is trimmed with stiff bristles. The claws are so large that they can hold even strong prey.

Every year, on February 27, the world celebrates the International Polar Bear Day. It was initiated by Polar Bear International (PBI), an NGO for polar bear conservation.

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