From: Claire Lewis, , More from this Affiliate
Published September 21, 2011 09:07 PM

Spotlight On: Bears

In case you hadn't heard already, September is Bear Necessities Month, a campaign run by WSPA to help raise awareness of the plight of bears and raise vital funds towards their work protecting bears around the world. Here at ARKive, we couldn't help but be captivated by the campaign, and decided it was the perfect opportunity to celebrate our beautiful bears.


Bears belong to the family Ursidae and there are eight different species living today, which occur from the frozen Arctic to the forests of South America.

The biggest and perhaps the best known of all the bears, the polar bear is the largest living land carnivore, with adult males growing up to 2.6 metres in length. A formidable predator, the polar bear shows some amazing adaptations to Arctic life and is able to detect prey that are almost a kilometre away and up to a metre under the compacted snow, using its heightened sense of smell. Although they mainly feed on seals, polar bears will sometimes tackle much larger prey including walruses.

However, not all bears have such a meaty diet. Although the giant panda is technically considered a carnivore (as a member of the order carnivora) and has been known to scavenge on meat if it finds a carcass, it generally feeds almost exclusively on a diet of bamboo. Bamboo is a plant with such poor nutritional value that an adult giant panda must spend around 14 hours a day feeding, now that's quite some picnic!

The American black bear is the most abundant bear in the world, and the species that gave rise to our most treasured of childhood toys, the teddy bear. The species name however, is a bit of a misnomer. While most populations in the west of the American black bear's range have black fur, in the east, many populations have lighter cinnamon or yellow-brown coats. In addition, some populations found along the pacific coast have grey-blue fur, while in British Colombia, around ten percent of the population have an entirely white coat.

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