Polar Bear Information
The Arctic polar bear has a dense waterproof coat that helps it survive some of the lowest temperatures on Earth. Learn all about this beautiful animal.
The polar bear lives on the shifting ice-sheets that surround the Arctic land masses. The ice provides a base from which the polar bear hunts its main prey, seals. In some parts of the ice-fields, deep cracks and inlets appear. These open areas attract birds and marine mammals. Seals gather here to feed, and where there are seals, the polar bear is rarely far away.
Because the polar bear is less agile in the water than a seal, it relies on surprising its victims on the ice. In summer, the polar bear stalks seals out on the ice. The polar bear cautiously draws nearer, and when close enough to strike, it rushes over the final few feet of ice. The seals breeding season also provides a yearly feast of young seal cubs, which the polar bear sniffs out in their birthing dens beneath the snow.
Polar bears mate in the spring, females with cubs don't mate, and because cubs stay with their mothers for almost three years, few females are available to mate. Males compete for receptive females, and their conflicts are often aggressive.
After mating, a female feeds heavily to build fat reserves; she may nearly double her weight when pregnant. Cubs are born in a snow den between November and early January. There are usually two, weighing about 1 lb. at birth, but they grow rapidly on their mother's milk and may weigh 29 lbs. by the time they emerge from the den in the spring.
With the exception of breeding pairs and mothers with young, polar beats are solitary. They do occasionally gather at a plentiful food source, such as a whale carcass. Males are aggressive and will kill cubs, since male youngsters might mature into breeding rivals.
Today the polar bear population is estimated at around 40,000. This figure has grown four times since the early 80's, and with help from all of us will continue to grow in the future.