Polar Bear & Cub Essay April 03, 2015 16:31

 

All Habitats patterns include an information page on the animal in the pattern promoting its conservation.  The following is the one from Polar Bear & Cub, Block #4 in the Ice Habitats Collection

 

Polar Bears and their Cubs

by

Wendy Christine

 

            Ursus maritimus, also known as the polar bear, is an amazing white giant of the Arctic realm. They spend more time in water than on land. Using only their front paws, they can swim 6 miles per hour. Numbers of polar bears range from 20,000 to 25,000 throughout their Arctic habitat in Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Svalbard (Norway). These creatures are nomadic, following their food supplies (mainly seals) with the ice floes. Although polar bears do not hibernate, there is one time the females overwinter in self-made ice dens - to have their cubs.

                                   

            Polar bears can mate from March to May but females have the ability to delay gestation until the winter months. During winter, solitary female bears dig dens in the snow, allowing the snowfall to pile over them, until cubs are born. Newborns are about the size of a chipmunk weighing about 1.5 pounds and are usually born as twins, but can be born in litters of one to three.   Cub mortality rates are about 50%. Cubs stay warm in their mother’s thick fur and drink her milk, while the mother lives off her fat stores.

 

            In March or April, the snow white cubs and hungry mother emerge from the snow den. By this time, the cubs have grown to about 10 to 20 pounds and begin rolling around in the snow in play. When the cubs are strong enough, the mother and cubs begin their nomadic routine of finding food near the ice floe edges and cracks. Then, the cycle begins again when females begin mating at about 3 to 5 years old.

 

References:

http://library.thinkquest.org/3500/polarbear.htm                                   

http://school.eb.com/article

http://www.nwf.org/polarbears and global warming/                                   

http://www.nwf.org/polarbear/pdfs/NWFPolarBearBasics_1-28-08.pdf

 “On Thin Ice” by Daniel Glick, NWF’s National Wildlife, Dec/Jan ‘07, vol. 45, no. 1