Polar Bears

A Ferociously Fun Guide for Kids

Ferocious, iconic and undeniably cute, polar bears are an endangered species that have captured hearts around the world.

Their habitat makes up only a small portion of our planet, and the effects of climate change on their icy living environment are destructive, making it difficult for the bears to survive.

There’s a lot you may not know about these arctic bears, so check out these ten fascinating facts on our polar pals.

Contents

Chapter 1

Fascinating Facts

Chapter 2

How to Save Polar Bears

Chapter 3

Polar Bear Videos

Chapter 4

Craft Projects

Chapter 5

Printable Masks

Chapter 6

International Polar Bear Day

Chapter 1:

10 Super Awesome Facts About Polar Bears

Beautiful yet brutal, furry yet ferocious; these epic carnivores are full of surprises.

There’s a lot you may not know about these arctic bears, so check out these ten fascinating facts on our polar pals.

Here we go…

1. They don't need to be present to submit a DNA sample - it can be extracted from their footprint

Measuring DNA from a person or animal usually requires material taken directly from their body, called a specimen. A brand new technique developed by the World Wildlife Federation allows scientists to collect DNA data from footprints left in the snow by the bears. In one instance, the test didn’t just show the polar bear’s DNA, it also displayed the DNA of the seal that bear ate for lunch!
polar bear looking right

2. 'Grolar' and 'Pizzly' bears are real, and they're hybrid polar bears/grizzy bears

Polar bears evolved from their forest-dwelling, brown-furred cousins many thousands of years ago, and science has proven that it’s still possible for the two types of bear to breed. Genetic studies done in 2006 noted that hybrid polar and grizzly bears do exist, and they look like a combination of their two parent animals. Are they more like mom or dad? Well, evidence points to the fact that these bears are usually fathered by a grizzly but raised by a polar bear, so they’re more likely to behave like their arctic mom.
Polar bear stands on pebble beach

3. They're the only bear species that's considered to be a marine mammal

Mammals are creatures that are warm blooded, have hair or fur, and give birth to their young. This is usually done on land, but there are a few exceptions called marine mammals which spend most of their lives in or near the water. Polar bears are the only bear to qualify as a marine mammal, as their species spends much of their lives in the Arctic Ocean.
Polar bear stands in zoo enclosure.

4. A male polar bear can outweigh a human man by ten times

It’s not a surprise that polar bears are large and in charge, but the males of the species are truly hulking beasts. They’re twice as large as their female counterparts, and they can weigh up to 800kg — that’s as much as ten average-sized human males put together. Their length is no joke either, as these bears can be as long as three metres. They’re officially the world’s largest land carnivore, despite their marine mammal status!
A large female polar bear

5. Their bodies are designed to allow them to swim for extremely long periods of time

Setting sun and wrinkly fingers and toes are enough to get people out of the pool, but polar bears follow their own rules. Their bodies are designed to allow them to swim for very long periods — this means they’re in the water for days at the time. They’re built for exactly that, with huge, paddle-like front paws make it easy for them to stay afloat and hind legs that flatten out to act as a rudder while polar bears swim.
Polar bear underwater

6. Although climate change is a huge environmental threat to their species, it's not the only one

We know that the melting polar ice caps are diminishing the size of polar bears’ natural habitat, as well as the resources available to them there. That’s not the only threat to their species, though — major oil and gas companies see potential in Arctic land, and efforts to extract oil will have a major negative environmental impact, as coming into contact with oil spills and toxic chemicals can impact, injure, and kill the bears. Human conflict driven by resource scarcity is also an issue, but those native to the Arctic feel strongly about establishing a safe boundary for the bears so that both natives and animals can live in harmony.
Huge male polar bear

7. Their sense of smell is absolutely amazing

You might get the feeling dinner will soon be ready when you smell it cooking, but would you know if you were nearly a mile away? A polar bear would, as their sense of smell is so powerful that they can detect their prey from a distance of up to one kilometer. It’s needed to survive in a climate where most prey animals are hiding beneath the ice.
Polar bear stretches its neck

8. Their population is so threatened that it may decrease by 30% as soon as 2050

Polar bears rely on the ability to cross long stretches of sea ice in search of prey for food, but because of climate change, their feeding range is severely restricted. This can lead to starvation, and can have a big impact on pregnant polar bears, who need serious nutrition to create the fat stores they’ll need when giving birth to and nursing their little cubs. Man-made climate change has been so impactful to polar bears that their already shrinking population may decrease by another 30% within 30 years.
Polar bear splashes in the water

9. Although polar bears look white, they're actually black

Measuring DNA from a person or animal usually requires material taken directly from their body, called a specimen. A brand new technique developed by the World Wildlife Federation allows scientists to collect DNA data from footprints left in the snow by the bears. In one instance, the test didn’t just show the polar bear’s DNA, it also displayed the DNA of the seal that bear ate for lunch!
Polar bear sleeps

10. Their odds of finding food while hunting aren't great

Polar bears spend about 50% of their lives on the hunt for prey, which is statistically necessary, because they’ll only actually succeed during about 2% of their hunts. The bears mostly chow down on seals native to the area, but they’re also more than happy to scavenge birds and their nests, smaller animals, and even plants.
Polar bear walks through snow
Chapter 2:

How to Help Save Polar Bears

Polar bears are iconic and loved throughout the world. And yet despite this, these awesome creatures are in serious trouble.

Global warming is causing their sea ice habitat to dwindle thus threatening their very existence.

Want to know more and possibly get involved? Here’s how you can help.

Polar Bears International

Polar Bears International prioritizes the mission to save these beautiful bears from their endangered status, and have created a site with a list of ways that people from all walks of life can best help polar bears — this includes teachers, students, scientists, business owners, and even corporations. Two standout options are their Save our Sea Ice Campaign, which encourages people of all ages to make daily life changes and commitments to reduce climate change, and their Petition for Polar Bears, which U.S. citizens can sign to encourage the president to charge a fair price for carbon.

The World Wildlife Federation

The WWF is all about saving endangered creatures around the globe, and they’ve also taken up the fight to save the polar bears. Generous helpers can choose to adopt a polar bear on the WWF website for a monthly donation starting at $3. Adopters will receive a cuddly stuffed bear to represent the polar bear they’ve adopted, a pack of polar bear facts with fun stickers and bookmarks, and updates on how their gift is benefiting the work done by the WWF.

America’s Natural Resource Defense Council

America’s Natural Resource Defense Council exists to protect our planet, its inhabitants, and its resources. They’ve made a point to address the threats faced by polar bears, including both climate change and hunting. Citizens are more than welcome to get involved with the NRDC, and can contact the organization through their website for tips on how to help.

Chapter 3:

The Most Awesome Polar Bear Videos on the Internet

After watching more than 17 hours of polar bear videos, we think we’ve unearthed the very best on the internet.

Check out these four fantastic videos to see the different sides of these awesome bears.

The Life of a Baby Polar Bear

Polar bears are undeniably ferocious predators. Like many of such animals, they start out quite small and cute, and most of their first year of life is spent fighting the elements, their natural predators, and resource scarcity. National Geographic beautifully captures the peril and triumph of a cub’s first year in this video.

Wild Polar Bear Tries To Break In

The intrepid human explorers who put themselves in the path of polar bears to get incredible footage face some unique risks, including the potential that a wandering bear might consider them a potential snack. In this video, BBC Earth’s Gordon Buchanan faces just such a situation with remarkable calm.

How to Play Like a Polar Bear!

The same remarkable sense of smell that lets polar bears detect prey from nearly a kilometer in distance comes in handy when it’s time for them to socialize with a mate — they can smell another bear from the same distance, and will even spend weeks tracking a female that’s ready for mating, as this BBC Earth video notes.

There’s a Polar Bear in My Pool!

Most of us could never imagine kissing a polar bear on the nose, but Canadian animal trainer Marc Dumas has a friendly polar bear living in his own backyard — and she’s no stranger to hugs, kisses, and doing remarkable tricks, as this video from Barcroft TV demonstrates.

Chapter 4:

Perfect Polar Bear Projects

Looking for easy-peasy polar bear projects that use supplies you probably already have on hand?

We’ve got just the thing!

These are our absolute favorite arctic craft activities to keep the whole family busy. 

DIY PAPER PLATE POLAR BEAR

First up is this paper plate polar bear craft from the experts at Little Bins for Little Hands, which is perfect for preschool-aged kids and looks great on display.

Polar bear craft activity on table
Paper polar bear with fingers poking through for legs

Polar Bear Finger Puppets

Young artists will love recreating the newspaper-based polar bear art project from Rachel at I Heart Crafty Things. It creates a really cute and charming finished project that won’t look just like all their other crafts, plus it offers kids a fun example of how to upcycle effectively.

WINTER BEAR KIDS SNACK

Trapped inside on a snowy day? It’s the perfect time to whip up these adorable little polar bear snacks from Totally The Bomb. They’re fun to put together, and so simple that kids can safely help with no issues. They’re also really tasty, so we won’t tell anyone if you eat a polar-bear-sized portion.

A polar bear cookie
Chapter 5:

Printable Polar Bear Masks

Looking for a fun polar bear printable?

We’ve got a great selection of original masks. They make for an easy activity and are great for dressing up.

Just print, stick to cardboard, cut out, and decorate. Simple!

1) Right-click image (2) Save to Your Computer (3) Print

Printable Polar Bear Mask 1
Printable Polar Bear Mask 2
Printable Polar Bear Mask 3
Printable Polar Bear Mask 4
Chapter 6:

Celebrate International Polar Bear Day

International Polar Bear Day takes place on February 27th.

Organized by Polar Bears International, the event is all about celebrating the magnificence of these beautiful bears, spreading awareness of their endangered status, and encouraging citizens to make life changes that will have a positive impact on our changing climate.

What’s International Polar Bear Day?

People are encouraged to celebrate International Polar Bear Day by consciously reducing their carbon output, which can be done by reducing thermostat temperature, choosing energy efficient appliances and insulation, and choosing walking or bike riding over driving. In a prime example of making an environmentally conscious choice, the University of Saskatchewan chooses to honor the day by decreasing both their heating and air conditioning by two degrees Celsius, reducing their carbon emissions by two-thousand tons.

Around the world, many zoos and animal sanctuaries choose to celebrate the day by educating visitors about polar bears, their life cycle, and the threats their species is currently facing. Additionally, Polar Bears International broadcasts special programming throughout the day on their website and social media feeds and offers viewers the opportunity to chat live with polar bear experts to learn more about efforts to save the remarkable bears.

So, go on, put it in your calendar, get your arctic activities prepared, and spread the word! 

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