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Polar bears evolved from the Brown(Grizzly) bear more than 200,000years ago. DNA taken from both types of bears is, for the most part, identical. As the Brown bear migrated north to the tundra and Arctic regions its physiology began to change. The ears and head got smaller and the fur turned white. The body elongated and formed a layer of insulating blubber(fat). The feet became webbed, and the bear's teeth evolved from long and sharp to shorter snd slightly rounded. All these changes allowed the Polar bear to withstand extreme cold, to move with grace and speed through the water and to chew and digest it's main prey, the seal. More carnivorous than any other bear, The Polar bear is an amazing result of evolution and is a true king of the north.

Information from "Adopt an Animal Newsletter, the Toronto zoo.
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There is also a sad side to the polar bear's habitat and survival,

In a far north without ice, a mother bear could be stranded a long way from good hunting struggling to feed herself and her cubs.
The snow-free scene near Kapp Fanshawe (Cape Fanshawe)offers a glimpse of may be the Arctic's rockier future.

Photo from National Geographic, April 2009
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Polar Bear Status Report
Polar bears are a potentially endangered species living in the circumpolar north. They are animals which know no boundaries. They pad across the ice from Russia to Alaska, from Canada to Greenland and onto Norway's Svalbard archipelago. Biologists estimate that there are 20,000 to 25,000 bears with about sixty percent of those living in Canada.

The main threat to polar bears today is the loss of their icy habitat due to climate change. Polar bears depend on the sea ice for hunting, breeding, and in some cases to den. The summer ice loss in the Arctic is now equal to an area the size of Alaska, Texas, and the state of Washington combined.
Thank you for the post Sue.

I was not aware of the origins of the Polar bear either.
I wonder how much longer they have a place on this planet? I think that we are the last ones to see many species on Earth. I watch National Geographic quite often, and it makes me sad to see the different endangered animals.

Vicky 2Hearts

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Polar bears face threats from shrinking Arctic habitat, trophy hunters, gas and oil developements, and toxic pollution.
Polar bears also have one of the lowest reproduction rate of all mammals, making it difficult for populations to recover when they suffer losses.

Here is something a bit on the bright side, a polar bear in Assiniboine Park Zoo is having some dental work done, since he had a broken and infected tooth that was giving him a lot of trouble. He is only 11 months old.


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Thank you Sue for your topic.
Polar bears like so many other species will soon be extinct unless humans will change their ways which I don't think will happen very soon. Even my own people are overfishing the oceans which cannot lead to anything good.

Your picture actually does brighten things up a bit.

Last fall Aurora one of the Toronto zoo's two female polar bears gave birth to 3 male cubs. 2 of the 3 cubs did not survive.

keeping a close eye on Aurora and the remaining cub, staff observed the cub losing strength. The best chance for survival meant transferring the cub to the zoo's intensive care unit.

The cub veighing less than 700 grams, was moved to the Centre, a team of 27 veterinary, nutrition and wildlife care experts gave him around the clock care - monitoring his temperature, taking blood samples, weighing him and feeding him a special formula to help build up his strength.

Humphrey is now 5 months old, and doing extremely well, thanks to the dedicated team that continues to work hard to meet his physical, mental and emotional needs.

From: Toronto Star, April 16, 2014


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It is the polar bear season again

10 Facts about polar bears:

1. Polar bears aren’t white

A polar bear’s skin is black and its fur is transparent with a hollow core that reflects and refracts light from the sun and off the snow, making it appear white. This adaptation helps polar bears keep warm as their fur reflects heat from the sun down the hair shaft so that it can be absorbed by their black skin.

2. Polar bears are marine mammals

Although polar bears spend a lot of time on land, they are perfectly suited for life in the ocean. Their snout, head and body are longer and more streamlined than other bears, allowing them to swim more efficiently. Their large wide paws act as paddles to propel them through the water and their hind paws act as rudders helping them steer.

3. Polar bears are the largest land carnivore

Male polar bears can grow up to 2.8 metres long and 800 kilograms in weight. Although this is the larger end of the spectrum, on average, polar bears are still considered to be the biggest bear, rivaled only by Kodiaks, a subspecies of the brown bear that is native to Alaska.

4. Polar bears are tiny and helpless at birth

Although polar bears grow to be huge, they start their life extremely small and helpless. When born, cubs are blind, toothless and covered in a sparse layer of soft, short fur. Newborn cubs are only about 25 centimeters long and weigh around one kilogram, but they grow rapidly thanks to their mother’s rich milk which is approximately 31 per cent fat.

5. Polar bears typically give birth to twins

Although polar bears can give birth to one to three cubs, they most commonly give birth to twins. This evolutionary adaptation increases the likelihood that at least one cub will survive to adulthood, especially given the harsh and unforgiving conditions found in their Arctic habitat.

6. Polar bears need sea ice

Polar bears are dependent on sea ice to catch seals, as they are most efficient as ambush hunters. They catch seals by waiting for them to surface at their breathing holes in the ice, stalking them sunbathing on the sea ice, and by breaking into the birthing chambers of ringed seals. These skills are invaluable to a polar bear’s survival and inherently make them heavily reliant on sea ice.

7. Polar bears have perfectly adapted paws

The bottom of a polar bear’s footpads are covered by small bumps, called papillae, which help them to grip the ice and avoid slipping. The tufts of fur between their toes also help with this task, making them “slip resistant.” Polar bears also have extremely thick, sharp and strong claws, which they can use to help gain further traction when walking on ice.

8. Polar bears are mostly Canadian

There are 19 subpopulations of polar bears in the world, which are based on geographic sea-ice regions. Thirteen of these subpopulations, which makes up about 60 per cent of the global polar bear population, can be found in Canada.

9. Polar bears can fast for up to eight months

When the summer rolls around and sea ice retreats, polar bears head towards land to live out the ice free season. During this time, they can go for long periods without eating, surviving mostly off of the fat stores they accumulated over the winter by eating seal blubber. However, the longest fasts among polar bears are seen by females, who can go four to eight months without eating; from the time they enter their den to give birth, to the time they emerge from the den and arrive at the ice edge the following spring.

10. Polar bears are called “Nanuq” in Inuktitut

The word Nanuq, which is Inuktitut for polar bear, means an animal worthy of great respect, or the ever wandering one. Polar bears hold great spiritual and cultural significance for Inuit communities.

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