THE POLAR BEAR

Polar bear. Photo Svalbard Museum
Polar bear on the ice. Photo Svalbard Museum
The polar bear is a marine mammal. It spends most of its time on the ice. Here it hunts seals, which are the most important source of food for the bear.

Polar bears have very pointed teeth and claws, which are ideal for catching and eating seal. It has a very good sense of smell and can detect seals at great distance. The fine coat and a thick layer of fat mean that the polar bear can live out in the harsh arctic climate and swim long distances in the ice-cold waters.

A large male can weigh over 500kg. The females (she-bears) are only half as large. Polar bears are fast for such heavy animals, and can run at over 30km an hour over short distances.

The she-bear will not eat for about half a year when she is about to give birth. It is, therefore, important that she has a lot of fat about her body. She uses this fat to make milk, which is much richer than the cream we can buy in the stores.
Females usually have two cubs, which stay with their mother until they are a little over two years old. They are born in dens in the snow around Christmas time. The cubs are very small when they are born (only weighing about half a kilogram).
The cubs grow fast and are as big as dogs (about 10kg) when they leave the den in April.

By Jon Aars