Polar Bears | Endangered Species Series
Polar Bears...the romantic symbol for the plight of the endangered species. Polar bears have become one of the head figures for the global climate change movement and for this reason, they may be one of the lucky ones. All endangered species need our attention and our help to preserve their habitat and protect them from harm, but there are so many of those species that no one in the general public knows about or cares about. The polar bear is a large, beautiful creature and we've all seen the heartbreaking TV ads or photographs of a polar bear stranded on a chunk of ice, floating away into the Arctic. It pulls at our heart strings and makes us want to do something...to act. This is why they may be the lucky ones.
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
Population: 20,000-31,000 (60% of the population resides in Canada, while the remaining live in the US - Alaska, Russia, Greenland, and Norway)
Classified as marine mammals because they spend a majority of their life on the ice
Special traits: thick layer of fat and water-repellant coat to keep them warm
Talented swimmers - capable of swimming up to 6 mph by paddling their front paws and holding their hind legs flat like a rudder
Weight: 800 - 1300lbs
Length: 6 - 9ft
Diet: mainly ringed and bearded seal (large quantities of fat are required for their survival)
Polar bears spend around 50% of their time hunting, while only 2% of their hunts are successful.
The single largest threat to the polar bear is the loss of sea ice due to the warming of the Arctic. Polar bears need the ice for hunting, breeding, and sometimes denning. The loss of the ice has driven many of the animals inland, which, in turn, creates more opportunity for clashes with Native populations that often end badly for both parties.
Scientists predict that if action isn't taken to stop climate change, we could lose 2/3 of the polar bear population by the middle of the century and all of the polar bears by the end of the century.
There are many people and organizations working tirelessly to ensure the polar bears do not meet this fate. The World Wildlife Fund is one of those many organizations. View the video below to see what they're doing to help protect this magnificent species.
Resources: Polar Bears International and World Wildlife Fund
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