Polar Bear Day

International Polar Bear Day is an annual event celebrated every February 27, to coincide with the time period when polar bear moms and cubs are sleeping in their dens, and to raise awareness about the conservation status of the polar bear (Wikipedia).





Polar bears are the largest bears in the world. They grow to be 6–9 feet long and weigh between 900 to 1,600 pounds. They live in the Arctic, on ice-covered waters.




(Image from WWF)


Polar bears are mammals

A mammal is an animal that breathes air, has a backbone, and grows hair at some point during its life. All female mammals have glands that can produce milk. There are more than 5,000 different species of mammals in the world - from the tiny bat to the large whales. Humans are mammals too.

Polar bears build a den in the snow and give birth there to one or two cubs in November or December. When born, the cubs are are very small - they weigh about 1lb. Mama bear nurses them and they grow very fast. When the cubs are strong enough to survive outside the den (usually around March or April), they will go out and start to learn how to hunt seals.



Photo: Daniel J. Cox


What do they eat?

Polar bears are carnivores and feed mainly on seals. They are actually the largest land carnivores.



Why are they white?

Before reading the answer - what do you think?





Polar bears have white fur so that they can camouflage into their environment.

Although adult polar bears have no natural predators, walruses and wolves can kill them. Young polar bear cubs can be eaten by wolves.


Polar bears camouflage themselves so well that sometimes you would think that all you would see is a pile of snow.


A polar bear's skin is black and its hairs are hollow.



Do they hibernate?

No! A polar bear's heart rate and body temperature stays the same throughout winter, so the cubs will stay warm. When in their den, the polar bears' mama wont eat, but will use her fat reserves to sustain herself and her cubs.





Are polar bears endangered species?

Polar bears are Vulnerable - it means that they are at risk of extinction in the wild.

Polar bears eat seals. In order to do so they need to walk on the sea's ice to reach them. Climate change causes the sea's ice to melt earlier than in the past. This makes it harder for polar bears to hunt, which leads them to scavenge for less nutritious food.




Vocabulary:

Mammal - a warm-blooded animal with a backbone that feeds its young with milk produced by the mother

Extinction - the dying out or disappearance of a species from Earth

Camouflage - a way of hiding something by covering or coloring it so that it looks like its surroundings

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