The Bear Necessities

Posted by Tenby Museum on Dec 8, 2018 Blog, Event Archive No Comments

On Thursday 6 December, Mick Brown gave a wonderful insight into the private life of polar bears. Mick had seen his first polar bear in a zoo in 1967 and never believed he would ever see one in the wild. His many slides paid testament to the fact that he had since then managed to see several of these majestic beasts in their natural habitat.

Mick explained that there are eight species of bear but only one lives on ice and that is the Arctic dwelling Polar Bear (arctos is Greek for bear).

The Polar Bear is the largest carnivore in the world and can hunt both on land and in the water. They will eat almost anything they can catch – seals, sea birds (including chicks and eggs), walruses, vegetation (if necessary) and on occasion a sick or injured reindeer. They can go three to four months without eating but will then put on up to 80 kilos in a week once they find a feast. Their two primary senses are smell and hearing, with sight coming in third. These animals are not territorial and they wander vast distances. The males, who tend to live up to 15 years old, can weigh up to 500 kilos. Despite their camouflaging appearance of whiteness, their skins beneath the thick single strand fur is in fact black.

Attacks by bears are not uncommon. These more often than not result from the inexperience of humans in the Arctic. Sadly every year bears are shot and Mick explained that trophy hunters will still pay the indigenous Inuit population of Greenland large sums of money to be able to shoot a polar bear. Combined with climate change it once again seems obvious that the greatest threat to the polar bear species is Man.