February 27 is International Polar Bear Day, celebrated to raise awareness about the conservation status of polar bears and the impact of global warming and reduced sea ice on polar bear population.
Polar bear facts: The polar bear (together with the grizzly bear) is the largest land-dwelling predatory animal on earth! Weighing in at more than 500 kilograms (1,100 lb – as heavy as an Asian elephant 🐘 who weighs on average about 1,000 pounds) and measuring almost 3 meters in length, this bear is twice as large as a 🐅 Siberian tiger. In order to withstand the extreme Arctic cold, polar bears have a thick layer of fat. They also have an undercoat and a layer of transparent protective fur (which just looks white) above the black skin, which helps them retain heat. This allows them to hunt and swim in very low temperatures. Polar bears are very good swimmers and have been sighted as far as 300 kilometers (almost 200 miles) from the coast. They need a highly sensitive sense of smell 👃 when hunting for food and can smell things located 1.5 meters (5 feet) away or buried under a layer of ice one meter thick! Their hearing and vision are comparable with those of a human being. Polar bears are solitary animals but do not have defined territories and enjoy playing with each other. Mating takes place in May and during gestation, the female polar bear nearly triples in weight.
We really enjoyed reading (top middle) the National Geographic Readers: Polar Bears (buy here). Julia (7 years old) enjoyed reading to Adrian this beautifully illustrated and packed with fascinating facts book. "With their beautiful white fur and powerful presence, polar bears rule the Arctic. These majestic giants swim from iceberg to iceberg in chilling waters, care for their adorable cubs, and are threatened by global warming."
Did you know?
- The largest bear weighed as much as a small 🏎 sports car.
- Polar bears have black skin underneath their "white" fur, which is not really white but translucent.
- If a polar bear gets too hot, it takes a swim or rolls in the snow.
- Walruses are one of the few animals that polar bear is afraid of.
- Some people go "polar bear watching" riding in special buggies to stay safe.
- Polar bear can eat 💯pounds of seal fat at one time – that is about as heavy as 400🍔
- Polar bears clean themselves by rubbing their bodies on the snow.
Powerful Paws (buy our polar bear figurine here):
- Long, thick, curved claws grab food easily.
- Thick pads keep feet warm.
- Front paws are webbed, like ducks' feet, helping bears swim.
- Bumps on the footpads keep bears from slipping on the ice.
- Big paws keep bears from sinking into the snow. The paws are larger than a dinner plate!
We also talked about the global warming and the increase in "greenhouse" gasses. Did you know that the year 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded? (The year 2015 was the hottest before that.) We also talked about shrinking ice-caps, and thus decreasing hunting grounds for bears, who are forced to go on land to look for food, and sometimes are seen near people's homes (in Canada), which is dangerous for polar bears and people! We also talked about what we can do to stop global warming such as use less fuel by taking walks and riding bikes, read a book instead of watching TV, plant gardens and trees which take in carbon dioxide ~ one of the main greenhouse gases.
Another great book is National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals (buy here) has a chapter on Arctic polar region, including polar bears. Children enjoyed the size-reference: the polar bear standing on its hind legs is about as tall as a 🏡 one-story house!
"Polar bear cubs love to play. They run and chase each other. They even jump on Mom. Sometimes they climb on top of her!"
We love "National Geographic Little Kids First Big Books" series! All of them!
We also enjoyed reading the Encyclopedia of Animals (buy here). It is a comprehensive encyclopedia, which devotes a page to each animal (0ver a 100! animals including humans), arranged in the alphabetical order. The book also provides information about the physical characteristics, habits, and behavior of animals such as hedgehogs, peacocks, penguins, salamanders, and snakes, and many more.
Polar bears, aside from the Arctic fox, are the only land mammals able to survive in the Arctic. They are found mainly on floating ice packs, but may move on land when the ice melts during the short Arctic summer. Normally, polar bears are solitary (living alone), but they will collect together if there is plenty of food nearby.
Lastly, we read Polar Bears: In Danger (the book Adrian is holding/buy here). It is a great book for early readers with interesting facts like: "a full-grown polar bear standing on his hind legs is as tall as an 🐘 elephant!" The book also explains why polar bears, one of nature's most beautiful animals, are endangered.
"Our planet does not belong just to us. It belongs to all creatures living on it. It is their home as much as ours."
Happy International Polar Bear Day!
p.s. For more on Arctic region and polar bears, read here International ❄️Polar 🐻Bear Day.