Bears are large dog like mammals found all around the world.
There are eight species of bear: American black bear, Asiatic black bear, brown bear, giant panda bear, polar bear, spectacled bear, sloth bear and sun bear.
They are found in a wide range of habitats in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, mainly the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Bears live as long as 30 years in the wild. One captive brown bear lived to the age of 47.
Bears are among the most massive and powerful animals on earth.
Common characteristics of bears include large bodies with stocky legs, long snouts, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and short tails.
Polar bears, with distinctive white fur, are the largest bears. Adult male polar bears weigh 350–700 kilograms (772–1,543 lb) and measure 2.4–3 metres (7 ft 10 in–9 ft 10 in) in total length.
The sun bear is the smallest bear in the world. It grows to be 1.2 to 1.5 meters (4 to 5 feet long) and weighs 30 to 70 kilograms (66 to 154 pounds).
The world’s most widely distributed bear is the brown bear. However, the American black bear is the world’s most common bear species.
While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous, and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous with varied diets.
With the exception of courting individuals and mothers with their young, bears are typically solitary animals.
They are generally diurnal, but may be active during the night (nocturnal) or twilight (crepuscular), particularly around humans.
Bears are extraordinarily intelligent animals. They have far superior navigation skills to humans; excellent memories; large brain to body ratio; and use tools in various contexts from play to hunting.
Bears have excellent senses of smell, sight and hearing. They can smell food, cubs, a mate or predators from kilometers away. Their great eyesight allows them to detect when fruits are ripe.
They are also fantastic at climbing trees, swimming and are able to run at speeds of up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour for short periods of time.
Bears produce a variety of vocalizations such as: Moaning, Barking, Huffing, Growling, Roaring and Humming.
During hibernation, the bear’s metabolism slows down, its body temperature decreases slightly, and its heart rate slows from a normal value of 55 to just 9 beats per minute.
Baby bears are called cubs, female bears are called sows, and male bears are called boars. A group of bears is called a sloth.
The bear’s courtship period is very brief. Bears in northern climates reproduce seasonally, usually after a period of inactivity similar to hibernation, although tropical species breed all year round.
Litter size ranges from one to six, depending on the species and the productivity of the surrounding habitat.
For bears that live in colder climates, the cubs are born during hibernation. The mother bear nurses her babies and keeps them warm as they grow and mature.
Mother bears tend to be affectionate, protective, devoted, strict, sensitive and attentive toward their cubs, raising them to an age where they can survive on their own. Depending on food abundance, mothers (especially grizzlies) may keep their yearlings a second (even a third) year, denning together again and breaking up in the third (or fourth) year.
Bears care deeply about family members. They will risk their lives and even fight to the death in order to save a cub or sibling from danger.
Bears grieve deeply for others. Cubs are known to moan and cry when separated from their mothers. This can go on for weeks if their mothers are killed by hunters.
The tiger is the only predator known to regularly prey on adult bears, including fully grown adults of brown bears, sloth bears, Asiatic black bears, and sun bears.
Of eight bear species in the world, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists six as vulnerable or endangered. The only exceptions are black and brown bears. The giant panda is the world’s most threatened bear species.
The most accurate way to tell the age of a bear is to count the rings in a cross section of a tooth root using a microscope. The outer part of the root, called cementum, adds a new layer each year.
Bears have two layers of fur. A short layer of fur keeps the bear warm. A second layer of long guard hairs keeps water away from short fur and skin of the bear.
Unlike many mammals, bears can see in color.
The bear ancestor is an offshoot of the ancient Canidae family of dogs, wolves, foxes, and coyotes.
Bears have never lived in Australia or Antarctica. Although bears do not currently live in Africa, bear fossils have been found there.
Bears were often honoured in the cultures of many early civilizations. They were seen as a symbol of power, strength and love.
The prehistoric Finns, along with most Siberian peoples, considered the bear as the spirit of one’s forefathers.
Because bears can walk short distances on their hind legs, some Native Americans called them “the beast that walks like a man.”
The Russian bear is a common national personification for Russia. The brown bear is also Finland’s national animal.
In the United States, the black bear is the state animal of Louisiana, New Mexico, and West Virginia; the grizzly bear is the state animal of both Montana and California.
Koala bears are not bears at all and are not related to the bear family. They are marsupials.
Teddy bears were named after U.S. President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.