10 Facts About Polar Bears

Nikita the polar bear

It's Polar Bear Week! 

Polar Bear Week coincides with the fall polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba, where polar bears gather to wait for freeze-up on Hudson Bay so they can return to hunting seals. Polar bears, the largest of all the bear species, are completely dependent on arctic sea ice for survival. Without sea ice, polar bears are unable to hunt, breed, or raise their young. Alarmingly, the arctic sea ice that polar bears depend on is rapidly disappearing. 

Did you know the North Carolina Zoo is home to two polar bears?  

Nikita and Anana are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan Program for polar bears. Additionally, the zoo has also partnered with Polar Bears International, an organization dedicated to saving polar bears through conservation research, education, and most importantly, action to help reverse the trend in sea ice loss.  

Here are our top ten coolest facts about Polar Bears:

1. Polar bears have black skin to absorb heat, but their fur appears white to blend in with their environment.

2. The polar bear is the largest and most carnivorous member of the bear family.

3. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimates that there are between 20,000-25,000 polar bears in the world. 

4. At birth, polar bear cubs are 12 to 14 inches long and weigh around one pound.

5. In the wild, polar bears live an average 15 to 18 years, although biologists have tagged a few bears in their early 30s. 

6. There are five nations with polar bears: U.S. (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Greenland (Kingdom of Denmark), and Norway (Svalbard).

7. Polar bears top the food chain in the Arctic, where they feed primarily on seals. 

8. Polar bears are only found in the Arctic.

9. Adult male polar bears can weigh 775 to more than 1,300 pounds!

10. Polar bears have amazing senses! Polar bear feet are furred and covered with small bumps called papillae to keep them from slipping on ice. Their sense of smell is powerful for detecting seals.

Learn more about the NC Zoo's Polar Bear Conservation efforts: http://bit.ly/2f5KuiV

Sources:

www.defenders.org/polar-bear/basic-facts

www.nczoo.org

www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/faqs

http://www.ncdcr.gov/press-release/spring-and-polar-bear-love-blooming-north-carolina-zoo