Statement of Purpose
- Polar Bears & Conservation
- Climate Change
- Drilling and Mining
- Other Human Interactions
- About the Polar Bear
- Polar Bear Cubs
- Polar Bear I.Q.
- Polar Bear Fur
- The Sea Bear
- More Facts
- Adaptions to Cold
- Polar Bear Prey
- Home Range
- Bears in Motion
- Inuit & Polar Bears
- Bear Attacks
- Polar Bears in Zoos
- Myths & Misconceptions
- Hunting Seals
- Hibernation Facts
- Bathing Habits
- Sleepy Bears
- Name That Bear!
- Walking and Running
- Feasting Bears
- Polar Bear Evolution
Myths and Misconceptions
Polar bears are well-adapted to severe cold. Winter temperatures in the far north often plunge to -40° F or -50° F and can stay that way for days or even weeks.
One of the most persistent myths about the polar bear is that a hunting bear will cover its black nose while lying in wait for a seal. The legend is widespread among native hunters.
Canadian biologist Ian Stirling has spent several thousand hours watching polar bears hunt. He has never seen one hide its nose, nor have other scientists.
Another recurrent myth is that the great white bears are left-pawed. Scientists observing the animals haven't noticed a preference. In fact, polar bears seem to use their right and left paws equally.
Yet another myth maintains that polar bears use tools, including blocks of ice to kill their prey. Scientist Ian Stirling believes that this assertion can be traced to unsuccessful hunts. After failing to catch a seal, a frustrated and angry polar bear may kick the snow, slap the ground -- or hurl chunks of ice.
A more recent myth claims that the polar bear has a symbiotic relationship with the arctic fox, sharing its food in exchange for the fox's warning system. Zoologists discredit the association. While it is true that the arctic fox will occasionally travel behind the polar bear and feeds on the predator's scraps, it does not serve as a "guard fox."
Not only is the bear-fox relationship not symbiotic, the little foxes often annoy the bears. An arctic fox will sometimes tease a bear by darting in to nip at its heels and will sometimes try to drive a bear off its prey. For its part, a polar bear will occasionally lunge at or slap a fox.
What's more, during the spring season on the ice when both the polar bear and the arctic fox are hunting ringed seal pups, the relationship could be considered 'competition'.
Yet another myth concerns orca whales preying on polar bears. Scientist Ian Stirling concedes that while an orca might have an opportunity to attack a bear stranded on a remnant of ice, such an encounter is extremely unlikely. To his knowledge, it has never been observed. Polar bear biologist Scott Schliebe has never heard of this either.
One final misconception is that polar bears live at both poles. The belief is common among school children, who grow up seeing illustrations of penguins and polar bears together. Polar bears, of course, live only in the circumpolar North. They never encounter penguins, which live only in the Antarctic.
Sources: Polar Bear by Downs Matthews (Chronicle Books, 1993) ; Polar Bears by Ian Stirling (University of Michigan Press, 1988); e-mail communications from scientists Scott Schliebe, Ian Stirling and Andrew E. Derocher.
Polar bears are interesting
creatures. Take, for example, Knut
at the zoo in Berlin. Knut has a
true fan base who love him and visit
him again and again. Some of you
have photographs of every stage of
life we are put together from a
Fotobuch or create a nice and colorful Fotokalender for you as a gift. If you have so many
photos of polar bears and also a fan
of these animals, then you create a
photo book just yet. In this way,
they are your pets a little closer.
Additional german informations can be found here.