I missed #wildlifewednesday due to a variety of reasons, so I'm posting it on Thursday.
Today I want to share a few brief facts on one of the animals closest to my heart - the polar bear.
Polar bears are the largest land predators in the world. They live in the arctic, where they traverse the expanses of the ice to hunt for their favourite delicacy - seals.
Due to global warming and ever increasing ice sheets in the arctic, polar bears are shrinking in population. They are now considered a "vulnerable" species, yet it is likely their status will soon become more critical.
Called Ursus maritimus, or sea bear, Polar bears are excellent swimmers, and can swim for long distances from ice sheet to ice sheet on the hunt for food. Sadly, due to global warming and the ice sheets disappearing, the bears are being forced to swim further without rest, some as far as 250 miles or beyond. While they are sea bears, these distances push them to their limits, and many bears drown. Without the ice sheets they rely on, other bears are taking to populated land to hunt, only to meet another predator - humans. Mothers with young bears will often walk to keep their young out of the water, but this can result in long periods without food. When they are hungry on land, or have depleted body fat from swimming too far without food, their reduced mass and energy levels leaves them vulnerable to the icy arctic climate.
In a perfect world, these bears can live up to 30 years in the wild. However, the difficulties with their climate due to global warming and habitat reduction is causing this species to suffer.
I'll post more about the polar bear in future posts. In the mean time, if you want to learn more about polar bears, and find out what you might be able to do to help, visit polar bears international: http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/
If you're in/near Portland, the Oregon Zoo has welcomed a new bear into their family. Nora is the new cub from Ohio who is stealing the hearts of the Pacific North West residents.
I am an archaeologist, Oregon Zoo Guide, and wildlife biology student. Much of my time is spent at the zoo with the bears, or out on the nature trails of the Columbia Gorge.