February 27 marks International Polar Bear Day – a time to marvel over these amazing animals as well as discuss how to keep them protected.
February 27 marks International Polar Bear Day—a time to marvel over these amazing animals as well as discuss how to keep them protected.
Fun facts about polar bears
- More than 70 percent of the world’s polar bears live in Canada. The only other countries polar bears call home are the United States (Alaska), Russia, Greenland, and Norway.
- Polar bears are huge! Adult males normally weigh between 351 and 544 kilograms (775 to 1,200 pounds). Females weigh 150 to 295 kilograms (330 to 650 pounds). According to Polar Bears International, the largest polar bear ever recorded weighed a whopping 2,209 pounds—that’s as much as a small SUV!
- They are the world’s largest land carnivores, but they are also considered marine mammals (the only bear with this designation).
- Generally, female polar bears give birth to twins. When cubs are born, they only weigh one pound, and are completely blind and toothless.
- Their feet are furry and covered in little bumps so they won’t slip on the ice.
- Their fur might be white but their skin is actually black.
- They are amazing swimmers, and their thick layers of blubber keeps them warm in the frigid Arctic water.
Threats facing polar bears
The Canadian Federal Government recently classified polar bears as “a species of special concern” under the Species at Risk Act. Climate change is changing the face of the Arctic, melting ice that normally stays solid (so polar bears can hunt) at a rate much faster than previously thought. Even though polar bears can swim up to 10 kilometres per hour and have been known to swim for more than 90 kilometres without a rest, this may not be enough to protect them when the ice is melting at such a fast rate.
These changes don’t just affect polar bears; the entire ecosystem is facing changes, such as harp seals. To further complicate the matter, polar bears rely on harp seals for food.
What you can do
Shrink your personal carbon footprint by implementing some simple lifestyle changes. After all, according to Polar Bears International, “There’s no better way to honor polar bears on their special day than taking a meaningful step (or two) to reduce CO2.”
You can also learn more about what you can do to help polar bears by checking out these organizations: