Meet your neighbours: The polar bear

April 11, 2019

This year, on April 22, we’ll celebrate Earth Day, the annual acknowledgement of the importance of respecting and protecting our planet’s natural ecosystems and the animals who inhabit them. This year’s Earth Day theme, in fact, is Protect Our Species, which puts a special focus on how humans can interact with wildlife in the most responsible, sustainable way. This is a value that G Adventures shares, most pointedly with our Jane Goodall Collection of tours, which aims to demonstrate how wildlife-focused travel can build a greater respect for the incredible animals who share this planet with us.

For the next four weeks, we’ll be presenting a mini series of blog posts called Meet Your Neighbours, in which we’ll introduce you to some of the incredible animals you might encounter on our Jane Goodall Collection tours. First up: meet the majestic, gigantic polar bear.

I am: Ursus maritimus, better known as the polar bear to English-language speakers, or nanook to the Inuit people who have long shared their northern habitat with me.

I live: Where it’s cold! Polar bears are only found in the Arctic Circle, and this has been the case for a very long time: the oldest known polar bear fossil, found in 2004 on Prince Charles Foreland (in Norway), dates back roughly 110,000 years. Polar bears have evolved for cold climates: we have large feet with small claws, for instance, that allow us to navigate icy surfaces much better than our brown- and black-bear cousins.

I eat: Meat — mainly seals, which I hunt by stalking them while they’re under the ice, positioning myself close to their location, and attacking when they pop up for air. Adult polar bears tend to eat only the very calorie- and fat-rich blubber and skin of the seal, while growing polar bear cubs eat the protein-rich red meat.

I need: Global temperatures to remain cold enough that my icy climate is safe. Rising temperatures and warming oceans are a huge threat to my livelihood: we hunt seals from platforms of sea ice, and if the ice melts too soon, we are unable to build up sufficient fat stores to survive through the summer and fall, during which our food source is more scarce.

You might get to meet — which is to say, see in the wild — the polar bear on our Canadian Polar Bear Experience tour.

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