Photo of the Day #25: Polar Bear

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Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) have always been favorite animals at zoos and aquariums, but the current problem of anthropogenic global climate change has popularized them further by making them extinction’s poster species. While many documentaries show the loss of ice as one of the primary factors that is threatening the bears, the overall rise in temperatures is having a more subtle (but widespread) impact on the unevenly distributed populations of bears. Polar bears have adapted to cold climate so effectively that they do not do well when temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you see these animals at zoos during the summer you’ll notice how affected they are but the hot temperatures. In the wild the bears do not have access to cold pools or rocks year round, however, and the body condition of the bears in many populations has deteriorated due to the effects of warming, the Western Hudson Bay population dropping by about 22% between 1987 and 2004. If you would like to know more about the status of the various polar bear populations, more information can be found through the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group.