15 Things You Didn't Know About Polar Bears
The 27th of February is International Polar Bear Day, and the polar bear is in desperate need of your help as scientists predict that polar bears could be extinct by 2100.
The bear has become the "poster child of climate change", said Dr Peter Molnar of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.
"Polar bears are already sitting at the top of the world; if the ice goes, they have no place to go," he said.
Polar bears are listed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with climate change a critical factor in their decline. We've put together some of our favourite polar bear facts; they are the most incredible animals and some ways that you can support them.
Polar Bears Aren't White.
According to Greenpeace, Polar Bears actually have black skin (just like their noses) covered in transparent, pigment-free hair. Each hair scatters and reflects visible light, which makes them appear white - perfectly evolved for their arctic surroundings.
Polar Bears Have One of the Strongest Bites of Any Animal.
Polar bears have a weight of 1,235lbs per square inch, greater than a great white shark, the African lion and Bengal tigers. In contrast, the human bite has a feeble 162lbs per square inch...no match at all!
Polar Bears Hunt Humans When They Have a Reason To.
And are the only mammals (aside from other humans) to hunt humans. They will only hunt human beings if they stray into their territory; generally, their snack choices are seals. Needless to say, if you find yourself in Polar Bear country, respect their boundaries.
Polar bears can reach top speeds of 40km per hour!
Night Vision Is No Match for a Polar Bear.
Polar bears are walking self-insulators with a heavy blubber layer and their heavy fur pelt which keep them warm in icy Arctic conditions. This self-insulation makes polar bears invisible to infrared vision specs.
Polar Bears Have Three Eyelids!
Their third eyelids reduce the UV radiation levels that enter their eyes, which helps them combat snow blindness - just another example of how these incredible animals have evolved to their surroundings.
Polar Bears Don't Need Water.
According to Greenpeace, polar bears don't need to drink water as they get all their H2O from chemical reactions that break down fat in their bodies. Pretty handy when most of the water around you is frozen.
Polar Bears Don't Get Wet.
Polar bears have two layers of fur - the top layer creates a water barrier to ensure the layer closest to their skin never gets wet and keeps them warm.
Polar Bears Are Classified as Marine Mammals.
Because polar bears spend most of their lives on the sea ice on the Arctic Ocean and entirely reply on the Ocean for the food and habitat, they are counted as marine mammals. Polar bears are the only bear species in this category.
Polar Bears Can Swim for Days at a Time
Polar bears can reach a speed of 6mph in the water, and they can swim for long periods through the icy Arctic water to get from one piece of ice to another. They have large paws which are specially adapted for swimming. They use their front paws like paddles and hold out their hind legs flat to guide them like a rudder.
Polar Bear Subpopulations.
According to the WWF, there are around 26,000 wild polar bears, and they are all divided into 19 subpopulations. Of these populations, one is increasing, five are stable, and four are declining, with the remaining nine lacking enough data.
Polar Bears Can Weigh as Much as Ten Men.
Male polar bears can weigh up to 800kgs and are twice the size of females - they can measure up to 3m in length and are the largest land carnivore globally.
Polar Bears Can Smell Their Prey up to 10km Away.
Polar bears have an incredible sense of smell which they can use to find seals breathing in holes within the ice. Once it has found the spot, the bear will wait patiently until the seal surfaces.
The Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society.
The Polar Bear Society was founded in 1963 in Hammerfest in Norway. The idea was to create a unique memory for Guests of the World's Northernmost Town. You can become a member of the society but only if you visit in person. As a member, you receive a diploma signed by Hammerfest's Mayor, a membership card, a sticker and an enamel and silver pin, which has become quite famous!
The rules are so strict about membership only offered to those who visit in person that Elvis Presley applied in 1973 and was denied as he had never visited!
Polar Bear Activity!
Are you looking for a way to keep the kids entertained during half-term? Why not show your support for polar bears and make this lovely recycled polar bear lantern.
With Arctic ice rapidly disappearing as a result of climate change, polar bears are facing extinction. Their evolving fur, warmth and colouring are now working against them in a warmer climate against a melting landscape. The food chain is also suffering from seals unable to hunt and survive, which cuts off the polar bears ability to eat. According to the WWF, by 2050, polar bear numbers may decline by 30%, thanks to the rapid sea ice loss.
How Can You Support the Polar Bears?
Adopt a Polar Bear
Perfect for young eco-warriors, why not Adopt a Polar Bear from the WWF?
Animal adoptions help fund the WWF's work with local communities to reduce human-bear conflict and projects to mitigate climate change impacts and support other vital work around the world. 100% of the profits directly goes to the WWF to help them fund research and protection.
Donate to the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat Charity.
The Canadian Polar Bear Habitat is a registered not-for-profit charity with a mission to promote the polar bear's long-term sustainability through education, research, and edu-tourism.
You can donate here.
Spread the Word
Polar Bears International asks you to spread the word about climate change impacts - talk to your friends and try and amend habits to reduce the effects of climate change.
You can also donate to Polar Bears International here.
At Curlicue, we love all animals but we are particularly fond of polar bears - that’s why they feature on our Pawfect Present print! Our founder, Hema Chauhan, was so moved by images of polar bears suffering and dying in their natural habitat as a result of climate change, that she began her personal journey into simple swaps and how to live a more eco-friendly life.
Within that journey, came Curlicue. An eco-friendly wrapping paper with a low carbon footprint using natural and recycled materials to ensure that Curlicue’s footprint would have minimal impact on the planet and all the creatures that exist on it.
You can shop Pawfect Present and our other eco-friendly wrapping paper and gift tag options here.