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Fun Facts About Bears

A polar bear mother and her cubs
A polar bear mother and her cubs of the year rest on one of the few remaining piece of drift ice in the Barents Sea in late July, Northeastern Svalbard, Northern Europe.
Credit: Hansruedi Weyrich

Bears are a familiar animal in the Americas, Europe and Asia. These species are the polar bear, brown bear, American black bear, Asiatic black bear, the spectacled bear, sun bear, sloth bear and giant panda bear.

Most bears have large, stocky bodies with short legs and a long snout. A bear’s fur can vary from the bright white of the polar bear to the reddish-copper hue of the brown bear. All bears have a heavy build but they are very efficient at climbing and swimming.

Bears are classified as omnivorous animals and have a varied diet. Most species of bears in the northern hemisphere go through a type of hibernation in winter.  Their body temperatures drop slightly and heart rate slows.  During this time, bears don’t wake—never eating, drinking or defecating. They live off the fat they accumulate eating during the warmer seasons.

Other facts about bears

Andean Bear
The spectacled bear (tremarctos ornatus) gets its name from the white markings around its eyes, which resemble glasses. Also known as the Andean bear, it is the only species that lives in South America, where they are distributed throughout the Andes in Venezuela, Columbia, and the coastal foothills of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. Their long claws allow them to climb trees, where they often spend their days sleeping away in tree nests that they constructed.
Credit: Jphipps | Dreamstime

Bears can stand on their hind feet similar to a human and sit up straight with remarkable balance.

Bears have an incredible sense of smell, even better than most dogs.

The sun bear, an endangered species, is the smallest of the bears at 3.5 to 4.5 feet (1 to 1.5 meter) long. They are named after a crescent shaped marking on their black fur that looks like the rising sun.

The most widely distributed bear is the brown bear. They are very large, typically weighing 700 pounds (317 kg).

While most bears are omnivorous, the polar bear feeds mainly on fish and meat, while the giant panda bear nearly exclusively eats bamboo.

The giant panda has a big appetite spending 12 hours every day eating bamboo.

Black bear
An American black bear snoozes in an artificial den constructed by researchers in Alaska.
Credit: Øivind Tøien

Brown bear mothers can give birth while they are hibernating. Baby bears are born hairless, toothless and blind.

Some prehistoric cultures revered the animal as the spirit of their ancestors. Modern day bears have a prominent place in many children’s books and as teddy bears.

Bear are often hunted for their meat and fur. Six of the eight bear species are endangered or vulnerable.

Other resources:

San Diego Zoo - Brown Bear

San Diego Zoo - Sun Bear

National Geographic - Black Bear

National Geographic- Giant Panda

BBC Nature - Bear

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