How big is a polar bear? Among land animals, the polar bear is bigger than any other predator in the world. Standing on its rear legs, it is tall enough to look an elephant in the eye! The largest polar bear ever measured was a male that stood more than 11 feet tall and weighed nearly a ton. Yet for all its size and ferocity, this enormous animal can be graceful and quite athletic, especially in the water.

 

How they hunt.

Most of a polar bear's life is spent hunting for seals. Hunting on ice is not easy, and catching expert swimmers like seals is even harder. Working alone, polar bears will try just about anything to catch their prey: sometimes they attack from the water, swimming noiselessly toward a resting seal; sometimes they slowly crawl toward a seal over the ice, hoping to surprise it; but most often they simply wait at a breathing hole in the ice, and slap the seal out of the water when it comes up for air.

 

What they eat.

A polar bear's favorite food is seal blubber. In spring, when seals are plentiful and hunting is easy, a polar bear can gain 200 pounds. In fall and winter, when seals are harder to find, polar bears become thin and may try hunting other animals including lemmings. Can you imagine an 800-pound bear pouncing on a tiny, two-ounce lemming?

 

How they multiply.

A mother polar bear usually gives birth to two cubs in the middle of winter. At birth, the cubs are incredibly tiny. For three months, they must stay inside a warm den under the snow, where their mother gives them milk and keeps them warm. When they emerge, they will cling like shadows to their mother's side, climbing on her back if they are frightened. If there is real danger, the mother will fight with every ounce of her strength to protect her cubs.

 

Where they live.

Do the words 'polar bear' make you feel cold? Maybe this is because the polar bear lives where it is very cold. Kings of the north, polar bears live at the top of the world in an icy region called the Arctic. Mostly ocean, the Arctic is a harsh environment of snow, ice, and water where most other animals could not survive.

 

Life-O-Meter.

Green Light. Fortunately, polar bears are not in immediate danger. About 25,000 of them live in the Arctic today. Their future depends on the humans slowly encroaching on polar bear territory with planes, ships, and snowmobiles. With several international agreements in place to protect the polar bear, there is hope their future will remain secure.

 

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