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Polar Bear

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is a bear native to the Arctic Ocean and its surrounding seas. Being the world's largest carnivore found on land, together with the Kodiak Bear they constitute the largest members of the Bear family.

Size: Males weigh up to 1,700 pounds, while females are generally smaller weighing up to 850 lbs. When males stand on their back legs they can reach heights of 10 feet tall.

Life Span: In the wild, polar bears can live from 15 to 18 years. They can live up to 30 years in captivity.

Color: Their fur actually has a hollow core and is transparent. Polar bear skin is black.

Continent: North America and Europe

Range: U.S. (Alaska) Canada, Russia, Greenland, and Norway have polar bear populations.

Habitat: The planet's coldest environments.

Food: Polar bears are the world's largest land predators. They feed mainly on ringed seals and bearded seals. They use their large front paws for hunting seals. When the seal comes up for air, the polar bear kills it and flips it out of the water with a single blow of its paw. When no marine food is available, they feed on vegetation.

Reproduction: A newborn polar bear is usually 12 to 14 inches long and weighs a little over one pound. Polar bears reach sexual maturity at 3-to-5-years. The mating season lasts from March to June. Before mating, a female may be accompanied by more than one male. Mating may occur for several days to ensure fertilization. The total gestation period is about eight months. Females dig dens in snowdrifts to protect their cubs from the harsh winter temperatures. A litter usually consists of two cubs. Cubs usually stay with their mothers for about two-and-a-half-years.

Fun Facts: Polar bears are the world's largest land predators. Polar bears have up to four inches of blubber to help keep them warm. Polar bear paws are up to 12 inches across and are webbed.

Conservation: Polar bears are recognized as "threatened" by the Endangered Species Act. They are threatened by global warming and the corresponding lack of sea ice for them to hunt from, as well as by illegal hunting, chemically contaminated prey, and humans taking over their land.