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North American Animals - mamals, birds, reptiles, insects

 Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)




Polar Bear | Ursus maritimus photo
Mother Polar Bear with her two large cubs. The cubs stay with the adult for the first two years to learn how to survive in the harsh climate. These two must be about ready to move out on their own.

Photograph by Len Haier. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Polar Bear | Ursus maritimus photo
Polar Bears in their element

Photograph by Len Haier. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Polar Bear | Ursus maritimus photo
The neck of the Polar Bear is longer than neck of Brown Bear and Black Bear.

Photograph by Len Haier. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

Polar Bear | Ursus maritimus photo
Close up of Polar Bear head.

Photograph by Len Haier. Some rights reserved.  (view image details)

POLAR BEAR FACTS

Description
The Polar Bear has a large and stocky body, and relatively longer neck and smaller head than Brown Bears and Black Bears. The fur is white or yellowish. Sometimes the coat can appear pale brown or pale grey. (When examined closely the fur is actually transparent - the white appearance is from light scattered from the clear strands). The skin is black. The paws are large and help with swimming. The soles of the feet are furry to provide insulation from the cold ice, and to provide better grip. Polar bears walk flat footed with a shuffling gait.

Other Names
White Bear, Ice Bear, Nanuk

Size
Length: males 2.3m - 2.6m; females 1.9m - 2.1m. Height up to 1.6m at shoulder. Weight: males 400 - 600kg females 175 - 300kg

Environment
pack ice of the Arctic Ocean. They hunt near the ice. Polar Bears travel hundreds of kilometers to stay on pack ice as the ice melts and freezes

Food
mainly Ringed Seals, also eat Bearded Seals, Harp Seals, Walruses, Beluga, Narwhals, sea birds and eggs, and some plant matter.

Breeding
Females dig a den in the snow. She gives birth to 1 - 4 cubs (average litter is two) in the den around December while she is hibernating. She nurses her cubs during hibernation until they are ready to leave the den by March or April. The cubs are independent at about two and a half years old.

Range
throughout the arctic region surrounding the North Pole

Notes
One way to see these magificent creatures in the wild is to go on a Polar Bear tour from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.

Conservation Status
The conservation status in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals is "vulnerable".

Classification
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Ursidae
Genus:Ursus
Species:maritimus
Common Name:Polar Bear


Relatives in same Genus
  American Black Bear (U. americanus)
  Brown Bear (U. arctos)