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From starring in Coca-Cola ads to becoming the poster child for climate change, the polar bear is quite the high-profile species.
Polar bears can weigh more than 1300 pounds and span more than 8 feet, 6 inches from nose to tail, making them the largest carnivores to currently walk the Earth.
(Though other bears can grow larger, like Alaska's 10-foot-long Kodiak bear, they're omnivorous, while polar bears prefer an all-meat diet.) The males far outweigh their female counterparts, who may only weigh between 330 and 650 pounds.
In general, though, a bear's weight fluctuates significantly throughout the year, with some bears packing on 50 percent more body weight over the course of a successful hunting season, then losing it over the course of their long fasting months.
Polar bears don't have any natural predators, and their intensely carnivorous diet puts them at the top of the food chain with species like killer whales, according to researchers, while humans fall somewhere closer to the middle.
Don't worry too much about getting eaten by one, though—a 2017 study found that during the past 144 years, there have only been 20 fatal polar bear attacks in all of the five countries that have polar bear populations.
However, because their bodies are so much better at digesting fat than protein, researchers think that if Arctic ice continues to melt and polar bears become unable access the ice (with its blubber-rich seals), they won't be able to get enough calories on land to survive [PDF].
There's reason to think they'll be fasting even longer in the future as sea ice melts, leaving bears with fewer hunting opportunities and less time to accumulate the fat stores needed to get through the lean months.
During the 1980s, non-pregnant polar bears spent 120 days fasting between hunting seasons, but researchers now think that the bears will have to go without food longer and longer, fasting for as much as 180 days at a time in the future.
In 2013, a bear searcher told the BBC that polar bears were spending 9 to 13 percent more time being active to make up for the fact that the ice they hunt on is drifting faster, leaving them walking on a 'treadmill' just to stay within their territory.
In 2011, a study reported that a tagged female polar bear swam a total of 426 miles in one nine-day stretch across the Beaufort Sea above Alaska, losing 22 percent of her body weight in the process.
Their two layers of fur and solid layer of body fat (up to 4.5 inches thick) keep their metabolic rate consistent when temperatures reach as low as -34° F.
They can sprint up to 30 miles per hour if need be, but much like you wouldn't want to run a race in a heavy ski jacket, polar bears can't spend much time chasing after their prey lest they overheat—a bear's body temperature can rise to feverish temps if they move too fast.
On land, they typically only walk at speeds of three miles an hour, and their main hunting technique involves staying very still for hours or days at a time, waiting for a seal to emerge from the ice to breathe.
While black bears, grizzlies, and other bear species spend each winter denning, forgoing eating, drinking, moving, pooping, and peeing for months on end, polar bears stay active all winter.
The only exception is during pregnancy, when a female polar bear digs herself a den and remains sealed inside, surviving off her stores of fat, until her cubs grow large enough to survive outdoors.
The hungry bear stalked three seals from afar, swimming almost 150 feet underwater without surfacing for a breath or to reorient himself to the seals' location before bursting out of the water where one of the seals was resting.
In 2014, zookeepers began feeding each of their bears a different color of non-toxic glitter so that they could trace their bowel movements, analyzing the samples to identify health issues, track stress hormones, and generally see how the bears are dealing with zoo life.
In the early 20th century, getting a picture with a man dressed in a polar bear suit was a fairly standard activity in Germany, at least according to the many photos found by French photo collector Jeann-Marie Donat.
The cute cub became an instant tourist attraction—the most famous bear in the world, even—and the zoo's attendance rates skyrocketed, netting an extra $1.35 million in tickets when the bear began making twice-a-day public appearances.
The young bear's popularity proved to be controversial for animal rights organizations like PETA, whose German spokesperson Frank Albrecht said the zoo should have let the orphaned Knut die rather than continue hand-feeding him, a process that he called a 'gross violation of animal protection laws.' In 2007, the bear received an anonymous, handwritten death threat from a hater who simply wrote 'Knut is dead!
Since Halloween falls right in the middle of polar bear season in town, city employees, police officers, volunteer fire officials, and polar bear conservationists stay on patrol to drive away any bears that might be tempted to go trick-or-treating themselves, using helicopters, sirens, air horns, rubber bullets, and more to keep the bears at bay.
Women's clothing went from slimmed down in the Regency Era to highly structured and decorated in the Victorian Era to slimmed down in the Edwardian Era extending into the flappers of the 20's, picked up structure again with small waists and big skirts in the 40's and 50's (skirts being particularly wide in the 50's), back to slimmed down in the 60's and into the 70's with the long silhouettes created by bell bottoms and peasant/earthy dresses, and then back into structured, small-waist fashions in the 80's into the mid-90's, and then slimming down again, and here we are...
pop down the street will still have the now-dingy white subway tile and pale brown shiplap walls that were the very latest in fashion when they had their building remodeled twenty years ago.
- hems go high if they were low and low if they were high, hair goes straight if it was curly and curly if it was straight - but there are also features that appear due to other circumstances, as people choose whether they want to look overflowingly affluent or trim and efficient based on current events.
- On 19. juni 2021
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