By Ben Wynd
Polar bears have been one of my favorite animals since I was 5 years old, and they happen to be one of the most interesting animals in the animal kingdom. At seven to eight feet long and weighing up to 1,700 pounds, they are the largest carnivorous land mammals in the world. This is incredibly impressive, seeing that newborn polar bears only weigh around 1.5 pounds. Their eye-popping white coats are actually due to a layer of hollow fur that reflects light. A polar bear’s skin is actually black underneath, and underneath that skin is a layer of fat to keep them warm in the arctic. The diet that provides this layer of fat comes from almost solely eating meat, which is unique to this bear species. Ringed seals, walruses, and whale carcasses are the most common meals for these large animals, but bearded seals and bird eggs have also been known to be part of the diet. Polar bears hunt seals by waiting for seals to swim to the surface of sea ice to breathe, and biting the seal and pulling it on to land. They tend to live more independent and solitary lives except when mating and raising cubs, but they have been known to play with sled dogs without killing them! These bears are in grave danger of going extinct because of climate change. They became the first vertebrate species to be listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act as threatened due to predicted climate change. The main threat to the polar bear is the loss of its sea ice habitat. Polar Bears International is a great organization where you can donate and help preserve the polar bear species and has a plethora of information about how you can help. Preserving these amazing animals is something that I think humans must do.