Департамент культуры Bear secrets: some curious facts about the Earth's largest terrestrial predator

Bear secrets: some curious facts about the Earth's largest terrestrial predator

18.12.2018

The polar bear is a true symbol of the Russian Arctic, a true lord of the North, a proficient and very intelligent hunter. This unique predator feels comfortable not only on land but also in the water: it is fully adapted to life in the extreme conditions of the Arctic desert. Each of us may have a good idea of how a polar bear looks like. However, few people are actually familiar with the features of this animal. Here are some interesting facts about this north giant that will help you to get to know the polar bear better:

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1. As mentioned earlier, the polar bear is the largest terrestrial predator. The weight of an adult male can reach 700-900 kg, and the length is up to three meters. It is assumed that the ancestors of polar bears were several times larger than the modern animals and their weight could reach up to 2 tons!

2. The polar bear has an exceptional sense of smell: it is able to smell prey at a distance of several kilometers or under a layer of ice about two meters thick.

3. The main prey of bears is the ringed seal, sea hares and seals. Adult individuals usually feed on high-calorie skin and subcutaneous fat of seals, and young bears eat red meat rich in protein.

4. Polar bears are very curious. That is why they often wander to landfills, inspect the garbage and taste it. Unfortunately, they consume not only unhealthy, but also extremely dangerous substances such as engine oil and plastic. Thus, the Arctic pollution directly affects the polar bears natural population.
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5. Unlike its brown relatives, the polar bear does not hibernate. In autumn pregnant females dig a kind of a shelter in snowdrifts with a narrow tunnel that leads to one or more chambers. When the lair is built, the female falls into a similar to hibernation condition in it. However, it is not a continuous sleep, although the bear's heart rate slows down to 46-27 beats per minute. Nevertheless, the animal body temperature is not decreased. The cubs are usually born between November and February. The first three months of life they remain in the den with their mother.

6. The polar bear is not completely white: each hair of its fur is transparent and hollow inside; due to the reflection of light the fur seems snow-white. Depending on the season and temperature the polar bear's fur can acquire different shades from yellowish to gray-brown. In zoos located in warm countries, the bear’s fur may even turn green – this is due to blooming of blue algae, which multiply in the water and cling to the animal’s fur.

7. The skin of the polar bear is black, it helps the predator to keep warmth and avoid hypothermia.

8. The bear's tongue is very pigmented and, partly due to the fact that it receives a lot of blood, can sometimes have a dark blue color. 

9. The polar bear not only swims and maneuvers under water perfectly, but also can overcome long distances by swimming, developing the speed to 10-15 km/h.

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Moscow zoo visitors can admire the male and female polar bear at the "Polar world" exhibition located at the zoo’s old territory. The beautiful Murom and noble Wrangel spend a lot of time in the outdoor enclosure, go for a swim from time to time and even hunt for fish in their pool. The polar bears zoo maintenance in conditions close to natural ones is carried out as part of the Russian zoos Polar Bears Care Program.