In Focus – Polar Bear

Status: Vulnerable

Geographic Region:  Arctic Circle and surrounding land masses

Meaning of Name:  Their scientific name (Ursus maritimus) means Maritime Bea

Habitat:  Hunting grounds across ice and open water

Threats:  Global Warming

Left in Wild:  20,000 to 25,000

Relaxing at Polar Bear Shores at Sea World Gold Coast

The polar bear is the largest species of bear in the world and is closely related to the brown bear.  Although most species of bears will have a mixed diet including fish, meat and a range of berries, a polar bear’s primary food is meat, making them the most carnivorous of all bears.  They travel very long distances up to 300 km a day sea ice hopping in the open ocean and searching for their preferred prey the Ring Seal and Bearded Seal.

Unlike other bears, polar bears are not territorial and will try to avoid confrontation most of the time. A bear that has a full belly and is satisfied will rarely attack a human unless cornered and provoked. They will generally just turn around and run away. A polar bear that is hungry is an entirely different prospect; this is when they are at their most dangerous.  Polar bears are excellent patient hunters so most people that have been attacked had no idea that they were being stalked.  Polar bears attack humans for food making survival from a polar bear attack, very rare.

You don’t want to be on the receiving end of this paw

Female polar bears will have their cubs between November and February and the cubs will be weaned at approximately two and a half years and then chased off and abandoned to fend for themselves. Polar bears are solitude animals that prefer to hunt on their own however they will meet other bears from time-to-time and interact by playing. Polar bears life expectancy in the wild is around 25 years of age.The longest living captive polar bear was a female living to the ripe old age of 43.

The biggest threat to polar bears is the melting of sea ice due to global warming. This significantly restricts the hunting range by preventing the bears from going out to their traditional sea ice hunting grounds. Unfortunately this can make the bears take more risks. Recently bears have been found hundreds of kilometers out to sea with no sea ice in sight, exhausted and hungry they have been known to drown.  It’s a sad fact that the polar bear could be one of the first species wiped out because of climate change.  With its habitat literally melting away, starvation is a real prospect for a lot of these huge carnivores. Starvation is not the only impact to polar bears from global warming –  with females not able to create snow dens to have cubs, stress is causing significant disruption to mating seasons and the amount of cubs a female may have. 

Stu’s Zoo Pick for the Polar Bear
 

Enjoying the sun at the Bronx Zoo

Although I haven’t been to a lot of zoos that have polar bears yet, four zoos that I have reviewed that have good polar bear enclosures are Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo (Sadly Gus the polar bear at Central Park Zoo passed away on August the 28th 2013. Gus was 27 years old). and Sea World Orlando

Sea World on the Gold Coast is the only place you can see polar bears in Australia at their excellent enclosure – Polar Bear Shores.  Recently they announced that Liya and Nelson, two long time residents of the park are now proud parents of a baby cub. This is only the second polar bear to be born in Australia and the first at Sea World – Gold Coast. You can see the tiny cub via Cub Cam HERE. Mum and the cub will be kept in a dark room to mimic a den for up to 10 weeks, only then will we know the gender of the cub.  I will keep this post updated with the latest info on the little fluff ball. 

Polar Bear Shores at Sea World Gold Coast

Pictures of Polar Bears

 

 

 

© Stuatthezoo.com

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