10 things you probably didn’t know about polar bears

Polar bears

Unless your cottage is VERY far north, chances are you won’t be running into a polar bear on the weekly dump run. That doesn’t stop these 1,000-pound giants from being an instantly recognizable symbol of Canada—well, Canada and cuteness. Here are some facts you might not know about the original “Nanuk of the North.”

Polar bears only live in the Arctic, and Canada is home to approximately 60% of the world’s population of 25,000 bears.

Of the 19 polar bear populations in the world, eight are declining and three are considered stable.

The polar bear’s Latin name, Ursus maritimus, means “sea bear.” In Inuit mythology, the polar bear is named Nanuk and is called Pihoqahiak, the “ever-wandering one.”

The word “Arctic” comes from the Greek word for bear (arktos), while “Antarctic” means “without bear.” Polar bears (which are found in the Arctic) and penguins (which are found in the Antarctic) do not live together. (Pay no attention to the funny — fake — picture.)

Polar bears have non-stick bumps on their feet called papillae, which help them maintain traction on the ice.

Polar bears’ main foodsource is the ring seal. When food supplies are good, polar bears only consume the seals’ blubber — sometimes up to 100 pounds in one meal.

 Polar bears will share their kill as long as other bears ask politely. This involves approaching the kill submissively, circling it slowly, then touching the nose of the bear in charge.

In the winter, polar bears take snow baths to keep their fur clean and dry.

Polar bears are strong swimmers, and are the only bears considered a marine mammal.

Polar bear attacks on humans are rare and, in almost all cases, the bear that attacked was provoked, malnourished or frightened.