Did You Know?
Polar Bear Facts
With only an estimated 20,000-25,000 polar bears left in the world, most of us will never actually get to see one in the wild. But if you do, you are most likely to see one in Canada where 60% of the world’s population lives. Where else do they live? Well, they also live in ice-covered Arctic seas in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, and Russia.
And while an adult male can weigh 1400 pounds and measure 10 feet tall when standing, a baby cub weighs less than a pound when born and is blind. For the first few years of the bear’s life, the baby learns to hunt from its mother, with seals being the primary food source. Unfortunately, the mortality rate for cubs can exceed 70% as a result of starvation, falling prey to wolves or other carnivores, or even drowning while swimming long distances in search of food.
The only predators of adult polar bears are humans. Wow! However, in a cool and very rare case of international cooperation, all 5 countries with polar bear populations came together in 1973 and signed an agreement which either banned hunting or established strict rules for killing or capturing polar bears. Populations have rebounded but now face different obstacles.
In September 2017 we had the life-changing experience of walking with polar bears (see our blog “Our Idea of Paradise“). First, we flew to Winnipeg, Canada and visited the number one polar bear exhibit in the world at The Assiniboine Zoo where you can actually walk under the bears swimming.
Next, we flew to Churchill, Manitoba which is considered the polar bear capital of the world. They even have a polar bear jail where bears are kept if they get too close to town until they can be released further from town.
And finally, we flew to Nanuk Lodge for 5 days of walking with polar bears, black bears, wolves, moose and millions of birds. The highlight was our encounter with a mother polar bear and her cub frolicking within 50 feet of us. Of course, the wolf pack of 18 wolves with their 10 cubs was pretty cool. It doesn’t get much better.
What Can We Do to Help Polar Bears
Polar bears are listed as Vulnerable (VU) by the World Conservation Union. The main threats to polar bears today are humans, industrial pollution, and the biggest one, climate change. Bears use ice to hunt seals and the ice is disappearing. Research shows the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of our planet and some scientists predict two-thirds of the polar bear population could be lost by 2050.
In order to help, we support finding/funding more renewable energy sources (solar and wind as 2 examples), limiting/banning the burning of fossil fuels and learning all we can about climate change. We are also using Dale’s sculptures to raise awareness and funds for polar bear conservation.
Polar Bear International: www.polarbearsinternational.org
World Wildlife Fund: www.worldwildlife.org
N.C. Zoo: www.nczoo.org